The last several years has brought about a resurgence in nearly all major subgenres (and even more obscure ones) in heavy music. Deathcore is in arguably the greatest place it’s been in a decade, mathcore (and “fashioncore”) is getting popular again, cybergrind is on the rise and Hell, even Dr. Acula are back with an absurdly strong Twitter presence. Despite all the figurative renaissance in the air, no genre has experienced the same rejuvenation and facelift that metalcore has. Somewhere between 2018 and 2020, panic chords, fight riffs and an intangible primal frenzy have sent the genre back to the mid 2000s—but in a good way. Many bands serve as a stellar example of the what’s-old-is-new-again approach, but few do it so well as blossoming young metalcore act A Dozen Black Roses. On their breakout EP, Treading Ever So Deeply, the band manage to feel nostalgic and comfortable while still sounding new, exhilarating and inspiring. Combining slick, crisp percussion with a jarring and frenzied take on traditional metalcore, A Dozen Black Roses put forth five tracks of sweltering, sinister and sincere intensity bound to have the listener back-pedaling a whole decade to find anything else that scratches the same itch.
Spread across five tracks, A Dozen Black Roses brings everything from pulverizing aggression to immense introspection and sincerity—often at the same time—and they do it in a manner that is simply jaw dropping. One moment, the chaotic percussion and spastic fretwork of “The Hedgehog’s Dilemma” is on the verge of snapping the listener’s neck; the next, “A Haunting Display” is using its up-beat bridge and quick, catchy candor to lure the listener into a rare moment of calm (only before completely obliterating it). The drumming throughout the release does a remarkable job of not only hitting hard, but transitioning beautifully, weaving in and out of monstrous breakdowns with marked ease. “Curse of Connection” sees these two elements become one, contrasting moments of electric, unpredictable energy against those of bitter, brooding aggression. Where the band’s percussion is a raunchy and ruthless barrage, the band’s fretwork is just as much so. The record’s title track serves as an excellent example of the band taking ferocious leads that feel akin to those found in mid-2000s hardcore and blending them in with immolating metallic tones and—of course—spine-shrinkingly heavy breakdowns. “Curse of Connection” also sees this dynamic fleshed out beautifully, with mammoth leads and riffs that segue into one of the year’s most ravenous displays of no-holds-barred aggression yet. This only continues to build as Treading Ever So Deeply progresses, with each song hitting with less remorse and more malevolence than the last.
Just as the band’s instrumental aspects are diverse, devastating and wholly energetic, A Dozen Black Roses’ vocal element is second-to-none when it comes to raw, chaotic metalcore. Shrill, bitter yells clash head-on with bitter growls and sparse moments of spoken-word segments and serene singing to bring diversity into an aspect of metalcore where diversity is often left behind. Each song cements this into the listener’s head, but the record’s title track, alongside “A Haunting Display” see the group’s vocal approach at its most varied and unpredictable. A battery of yells, screams and belted singing soars alongside a veritable instrumental armamentarium to cripple the listener under a steamroller fashioned from pure, good ol’ fashioned metalcore—and that’s really, in a sentence, all there is to know about A Dozen Black Roses, at least on a superficial level. Diving deeper into the EP sees that intimate lyrics are the poison delivered on a vector of vicious screams and growls, demonstrating the band’s depth in a devious-yet-brilliant fashion.
It’s easy—or at least tempting—to write A Dozen Black Roses off as another one of those “metalcore revival” bands with a couple cool breakdowns and panic chords. However, before your first spin through Treading Ever So Deeply is finished, you—the listener—should realize there is really so much more to this young and lively project. Heavy, chaotic, energetic and eviscerating, A Dozen Black Roses are one of my own favorite new bands to emerge from this resurgence within the heavy music scene, and I’m sure they’ll be one of yours too.
For Fans Of: Boundaries, A Needle Under the Nail, Degrader, Dying Wish