Album: New Lows – EP
With most—if not all—things in life, there’s a balance. With sunshine comes drought; and if you pray for rain, you’ll have to deal with the mud (and terrible drivers). While it’s an old adage, there truly is no such thing as a free lunch, and with the “freebies” and highs life offers you, there are almost certainly going to be new, deeper and more oppressive lows that follow.
But if all of those lows feel and sound the same as Downswing’s New Lows EP, maybe that’s a blessing in disguise.
After a lengthy hiatus, a vocalist swap and…well, a global pandemic, Downswing are back with four tracks released over the last several months compiled into a short, sweet and scathing EP aptly titled New Lows. Bringing to light some of the bands most aggressive material to date and positioning it staunchly against their flair for some of Metalcore’s more melodic elements, one of the east coast’s most eviscerating underground metalcore collectives is back with a vengeance. New Lows is energetic and wastes none of its short runtime in pummeling the listener with riffs, breakdowns and ear-catching grooves, making it a high-octane and ruthlessly rambunctious experience from start to finish.
New Lows is an uncompromising metalcore experience. While some would argue that as a weakness, I would venture to say that it plays directly to Downswing’s strengths. What the band do on New Lows is capture the very essence of the genre, distill all of its most crucial elements and turn them up to eleven. This is abundantly single on the band’s lead single and the EP’s title track. Here, the band’s percussion is riveting—a cacophonous steamroller of plodding kick drum and cracking snare. The same can be said for “Don’t Bite,” with its immolating introduction—however the band’s relentless percussion yields to an infectiously catchy riff that underscores the catchier-still chorus. However even “Don’t Bite,” which is arguably the most tame track on Downswing’s four track offering still culminates in a bass-heavy build up and subsequent spine-cracking breakdown. The band capture all the core components of metalcore and do them to perfection, serving as a figurative archetype of the genre, with “New Lows” or “Kick Rocks” highlighting the band’s proclivity towards heaviness and “Don’t Bite” demonstrating their aptitude for the classic “heavy/soft” metalcore style.
In keeping with the band’s varied approach to instrumentation, Downswing’s vocal approach is both dynamic and refined—in the sense that the band’s vocalist is new when compared to their previous works. The vocal element on New Lows further amplifies the band’s ability to masterfully craft metalcore—as there are all manners of screams, bellows and shouts (with some singing to boot) to match the band’s furious fretwork or bass-heavy grooves. “Don’t Bite” stands out as one such track where the band’s vocal and lyrical elements are both dynamic and immersive. With lyrics that pack a meaningful punch and vocals that run the gamut from a grisly low bark to a shrill shout, there is precious little room for monotony—or boredom—when it comes to the band’s words and their delivery. The way in which the band’s vocal delivery syncopates and resonates so well with their no-holds-barred brand of heavy music is what makes New Lows such a resounding success, and further cements Downswing as a staple of the eastern U.S.—or really, nationwide—metalcore scene.
While New Lows is short—especially after having waited for what feels like a small eternity for new music from everyone’s favorite East Coast Trash, it absolutely packs a hefty punch and doesn’t slack when it comes to replay value. New Lows is memorable and engaging enough to last for several cycles through on repeat without wearing out in the slightest—and with the way in which Downswing implement classic metalcore recipes refined to perfection, there’s no shot that New Lows doesn’t age well. Despite it being on the shorter side, the band’s first collection of tracks in years serves as a stellar appetizer to whatever is up next in the band’s bright future.
For Fans Of: Born a New, Degrader, Like Moths to Flames
By Connor Welsh