REVIEW: Lock & Key – The Divide [EP/2014]


Artist: Lock & Key

Album: The Divide – EP


With every passing second, there is a growing gap—a chasm—developing between humanity and the products of its expansion. Allow me to elaborate: in efforts to expand and grow as a species, the byproducts—things we create and choices we make—are becoming less and less human and more mechanical. This is true with very few exceptions, with this divide between humanity and nature widening with every weak-willed and half-hearted effort at development. However, to speak of exceptions to this rule is to speak of hardcore music: one of the last few bastions of heartfelt human effort that exist in this world. When one thinks of the emotive, driving energy it takes to truly define the human spirit, one up-and-coming English hardcore act comes to mind: Lock & Key. Founded out of the ashes of UK’s legendary Odessa, Lock & Key are a frantic, furious and powerful force for positive change in the hardcore scene, using their debut EP titled The Divide to not just address, but bridge the gap between head and heart.

At its core, The Divide is a juggernaut of powerful, tight musicianship that packs a whallop. The percussion—while not necessarily overly technical or boasting Mach-speed—is punchy and driving, as tracks like “Burning Rope” and “Things Stay the Same” beat with the strength of ten men’s hearts. As resonant, booming toms bellow and splashy cymbals blend with fierce, cracking snare hits, the guitar and bass race overtop, keeping perfect time with the crushing candor of the drums. The introduction to “Burning Rope” is perfect evidence of this—as the guitars churn out a low, gritty chug that melts with the booming, slinky bass guitar overtop of the catchy, toe-tapping kick drum pattern. The result is a cohesive, co-ordinated instrumental dynamic that appeals to the listener with raw, gritty energy rather than technical, mechanistic prowess. While there might not be razor-sharp riffs or machine-gun blast beats to be found in Lock & Key’s arsenal, there are few bands that are capable of inducing the Bane-like bloodrush and the pulse-pounding excitement to found within “So Alone” or “Down, But Not Out.”

While Lock & Key sink their claws into the listener with musical mastery, they inject their positive, persevering passion into them with visceral vocals and heartfelt lyrics. “So Alone” features lyrics that practically any listener with a history of hardship and collapsed friendships can relate to, while “Down, But Not Out” packs a punch of positivity strong enough to make the listener want to get off their ass and change the world. All of these messages are delivered by a gritty, unpolished but pure vocal style that sounds like something between Have Heart and Demoraliser. With hardcore-punk’s straightforward annunciation, but the gruff, low tone of more modern hardcore and metalcore acts, Lock & Key manage to perfectly match their abrasive hardcore instrumentation with intense, tangible vocals. These vocals are intelligible enough to make the stories and heartfelt lyricism of The Divide understandable, but gruff and gritty enough to stay firmly in the realm of a screamed vocal style that will please the ears of practically any listener.

Lock & Key’s vocal style and instrumental proclivities feed off of each other to build a dynamic, dialectic and destructive sound that simply steamrolls the efforts of the band’s peers. Whether it’s how brilliantly the music and the vocals flow together in “Burning Rope,” or “So Alone” and it’s booming, catchy bass cameo, The Divide is an immense EP made up of countless small instances of brilliance coming together in perfect harmony. From the climactic breakdown of “Down, But Not Out” to the sucker-punch guest vocalist on “The Border,” every track Lock & Key write feature at least (and often times, more) one stand-out moment that defines the band’s perfection of heartfelt hardcore music—a stand-out moment that will have the listener coming back for more.

If you’re struggling with overcoming the tedious trials and tribulations that life has to offer—or are simply fed up with the negative mindset of those around you—give Lock & Key a chance unlock the chains binding your positive energy. The Divide is a furious, adrenaline-pumping ride that—simply put—will serve as the force for positive change you haven’t just been looking for, but truly need.



For Fans Of: Odessa, Demoraliser, Have Heart, Bane, Rzl Dzl.