Artist: Those Who Fear
Album: State of Mind
The way we act and the imprint we leave on the community we reside in is a product of our outlook on the world. We take the way we perceive the world and make it a reality, whether we mean to or not—be it through positive and altruistic means or actions of boundless belligerence and acute aggression. For some, this is a justification for living a peaceful, quiet and quaint life; to leave less of an imprint on the world they inhabit—but for others, like the wild, energetic and eviscerating metalcore act Those Who Fear, it warrants the release of negative energy to effect positive change—to cleanse the world they live in my means of poignant, punishing catharsis. They combine devastating power with a potent, ultimately positive message to create a dialectic as engaging as their music; they open themselves to the listener such that their State of Mind can truly be understood.This crushing quartet release every ounce of negativity and violence they have through a cavalcade of raunchy, riotous and ruthlessly catchy breakdowns, two-steps and riff-driven, sharply metallic passages; and while it might seem like they’re nothing more than a group of pissed-off, miscretinous youth, the truth is everything but; State of Mind, Those Who Fear’s most recent studio album is proof that a negative outlook on the world can bring about motivation for positive change, as the catchy, crushing, cruel-and-unusual heaviness that pervades these ten titanic tracks are bold and brash enough to instill a revolution one mosh pit at a time.
State of Mind crashes into the listener’s skull with the voracity of a wrecking ball and the precision of a bullet fired at point-blank range. From the first catchy and sample-heavy breakdown of the album’s title track to the raunchy energy of “Driven” and the bold, no-holds-barred “U.S.F.,” Those Who Fear inspire aggression and animation with every note they play. Percussionist Jacob Wilder is just that—wild. Lacing every song with dancy two-steps and devastating breakdowns, Wilder is the source for much of Those Who Fear’s instrumental energy and anger-driven, cathartically crushing heaviness. “State of Mind” sees Wilder letting loose with a curiously timed, stuttering breakdown—while “TWF Nation” and “U.S.F.” are heavily anchored in the band’s hardcore roots—creating catchy, albeit simple, beats that break their way straight into the listener’s skull. Wilder—while a wonderful percussionist for Those Who Fear’s earnest style of energetic assault—is, above all, a foundation for guitarists Luke Healy and Caleb DeRusha to create murky, manic and urgent riffs and breakdowns atop. The anthemic and catchy “Lost” is a great example of Healy and DeRusha adding melody into their murderous fretwork—while “U.S.F.,” “Driven” and “Better Off” are examples of straight up, bitter and brooding brutality. Here, Healy and DeRusha let loose with slamming breakdowns and scathing fretwork both, creating—again—simple but insane songs that make masterful use of structure to stick with the listener, rather than over-the-top technicality.
To speak of unfiltered aggression is to speak of the vocals and lyrics of frontman John Healy. After opening up the darker parts of his psyche on Those Who Fear’s previous release, Healy seems to have kept that portal open, allowing seething anger and rage to flow outward, drowning the listener—and infecting them in the process. From Healy’s harsh, bitter barks (not literal barks) on “State of Mind” to the politically driven “U.S.F.” And the personal “Better Off,” Healy’s lyrics are the perfect mirror to the raw power of his vocals. Is Healy the most technically amazing vocalist out there? No—but that isn’t his aim. He draws the listener in with captivating and relatable lyrics that appeal to the listener’s most difficult trials and tribulations—inspiring fortitude and gritty dedication enough to drive through anything. That is the true impetus behind State of Mind—the ability to incur mental strength enough to endure the toughest of times.
If one were to try and capture the attitude Those Who Fear portray with their most recent full-length release, the best fit might be perseverant. It refuses to be stopped; in the face of uncertainty, diffidence, anxiety and unease, it powers ahead as boldly as thunder and as brilliantly as lightning. Equal parts flashy as a firework and resilient as a fortress, State of Mind isn’t the album fans of Those Who Fear wanted—it’s the album fans dreamed of. Making simple, solid but strongly-structured songs that stick with the listener like soul-food covered in Elmer’s glue, Those Who Fear combine catchy lyrics, beefy vocals, brutalizing aggression and occasional cuts of razor-sharp riffing and fast-footed two-stepping into an experience that fans of rampant, ruthless and belligerent metal-turned-hardcore won’t be able to get enough of.
For Fans Of: The Ghost Inside, For Today, Emmure, Genocide District
By: Connor Welsh