Album: Coward – EP
When you think of a “landfill,” like most modern men and women, your skin probably crawls. Landfills?! Weren’t those like…outlawed or something? Is one response out of many similar ones I received when asking random people about them. They’re generally considered a blight—a melting pot for refuse and waste, things we neither concern ourselves with nor care to propagate. We hold them responsible for being birth centers of disease and sources of extinction for many previously endangered species—in short, not much good typically comes from them.
Let’s take a road trip down to hot and humid Jacksonville, Florida—where possibly the only good Landfill hails from. I’m speaking, of course, about the malicious and ruthlessly heavy metalcore act by the same time. While the quarter boast brutalizing and putrid aggression in its most pure state, that’s about where their similarity to the garbage disposal system that serves as their namesake stops. Their long-awaited debut EP, Coward, is crushing and catchy—a furious display of metal meeting in a head-on collision with beatdown and slamming hardcore both, ensuring one thing: by the time Coward is done, the only place you can find the listener’s body will be in a Landfill.
Instrumentally, Landfill are a “metalcore” act in the same way Varials, Left Behind and Knocked Loose are a metalcore band—so those expecting catchy clean vocal choruses and upbeat anthems ought look elsewhere. What Coward is rich in is heavy, hectic percussion—courtesy of drummer Joseph Felicebus—and driving, deep gritty bass, brought to you by Roy Lions. The dynamic duo that comprise Landfill’s low end are the first thing the listener truly notices during Coward’s cruel and unusual introduction—a spine-shrinking series of bombastic, bass-heavy chugs built atop Felicebus’ furious kick drum. Felicebus isn’t a one trick pony, however, as the very next track, “Voices,” sees him speeding along like greased lightning, dominating the track with blistering blast beats and dancy two-steps, with Lions rumbling along like a ten-ton shadow. The two continue in this manner for much of Coward, taking breaks in oscillating between catchy and crushing only for climactic moments of no-holds-barred heaviness—like those at the end of “Voices” and “Coward.” Here, the two drop any sense of technicality or subtlety they might have hidden between them and use everything at their disposal to bludgeon the listener to death—and guitarists Aaron Bourque and Lucas Bauch do the same. Bourque and Bauch follow Felicebus’ lead, grooving and riffing away with sharp, metallic cuts during “Step Down” and “(Un)impressed,” yet joining Landfill’s low end in burying the listener beneath six feet of smothering dissonance during the climactic breakdowns in “T.T.F.U.” Or “Voices”—let alone the constant insanity that is “Coward.” The duo are adept at catchy, groovy fretwork built on riffy metal just as adept as they are at inflicting lethal blunt force trauma—making Landfill as diverse as they are devastating.
Where Coward’s instrumentation is produced more cleanly and crisply (while still being raw and gritty) than one would expect by a band named Landfill (courtesy of Kyle Hoffer), the vocals are another story. Frontman Jeremy Gonzalez is, to be blunt, no coward. His roars and growls throughout Coward are impeccable, sounding as if he is standing mere inches away from your ears as he barks and brays lyrics of bitterness and malevolence straight into the listener’s brain. “Coward” sees him at his catchiest, with a refrain that will surely get lodged in the listener’s head—while “Voices” is pure mosh fuel, as is the dark and devious “Step Down.” Gonzalez personifies aggression and anger brilliantly, bringing a sharp edge and sharper attitude to the album where many bands are complacent to recede into a safe, “standard” manner of delivering a simple message to a bored fan base. Rather, Gonzalez goes the extra mile in making his performance on Coward emotional and authentic while still giving today’s spin-kicking, crowdkilling youth something to get wild to.
I’m going to be honest: I wanted to write a scathing and hate-filled review for Coward pretty badly. Maybe it’s because the band are an easy target for funny wordplay (their name is Landfill), or maybe it’s just because listening to Coward brings out the most aggressive and malicious facets of the listener. Landfill channel pure and punishing aggression like seasoned veterans—which is truly remarkable given just how young the band are. Skeptics of heavy hardcore and metalcore will—at first—dismiss the band as “just another poorly recorded Varials.”
But let “Voices” finish up before passing such superficial judgement.
Coward is raw, earthy, organic, straight-from-the-source anger, directed at everything and every one who touches it or even comes close to it. Whether it’s the riff-driven, frantic attacks from Bourque and Bauch or Gonzalez’s guttural, grisly barks, Coward is a fearless display of fantastic metalcore, more gargantuan and grotesquely aggressive than any Landfill.
For Fans Of:Misgiver, Left Behind, Varials, Vicious Embrace, Madball
By: Connor Welsh