Artist: A Sense of Purpose
Album: Zoetic – EP
When it comes to creating art, the difference between something floral, engrossing and vivid and something stagnant and dull comes down to the motivation behind it. Without energy, emotion, and purpose, art—especially music—feels, for lack of a better term, half-assed. But a spark of life and ingenuity can go a long way; just ask Akron-based progressive metalcore act A Sense of Purpose. Their sophomore EP, Zoetic, stands true to both its name and the name of the band—a vivacious and purposeful display of musical mastery and marvelous, enrapturing energy. Defined as “of or related to life,” Zoeticis that and then some, using pummeling grooves and atmospheric riffs in dialectic harmony to capture a very real and purposeful essence.
A Sense of Purpose make use of an entire arsenal of metallic and atmospheric weaponry to barrage the listener with masterfully written metalcore. From the first furious riff of “We Are But Messengers” through the anthemic climax “To Feel Alive,” guitarists Chris Petrof and Kyle Whittaker work together to break bones with brutalizing breakdowns and shred flesh with scathing riffs. When Petrof and Whittaker aren’t taking turns inflicting bodily harm—as heard on “Exigency”—they are hanging back, letting bassist Seth Holt and percussionist Nick Chiudioni dominate the listener’s attention. Chiudioni is a steady foundation throughout Zoetic, rarely stealing the show, but rather enabling Petrof and Whittaker’s riffs and grooves to truly snare themselves in the listener’s head. “Wait for the Rise” is an excellent example; Chiudioni’s bouncy patterns and footwork—coupled with Holt’s grimy, thick low end—punch Petrof and Whittaker’s fretwork into the gyri and sulci of the listener’s brain with ease.
Zoetic’s instrumentation is diverse and bursting with life in itself—but when coupled with A Sense of Purpose’s vocals, courtesy of Jon Benjamin, the band come to life through the listener’s headphones. Benjamin’s range is wide and he draws from his entire spectrum with care and calculated expertise. “The Common Bind” is one such example—where his vocals are gruff and gritty but still manage to harmonize with the band’s more melodic aspects. The same can be said of the last two tracks—“To Feel Alive” especially—where the opening numbers see him in a more aggressive and bitter light. While Benjamin isn’t inherently one of the genre’s more unique or remarkable vocalists, he is by no means slacking—playing perfectly to A Sense of Purpose’s instrumentation to ebb and flow with the heaviness and atmosphere that washes hither and to like a metallic tide.
While A Sense of Purpose definitely had a goal in mind with Zoetic—one they achieved—they still fail to completely separate themselves from a crowded genre with bands that sound remarkably similar. A Sense of Purpose’s sophomore release can readily be likened to a student in their sophomore year in college: educated, driven and dedicated but still lacking a definite sense of direction. Packed with youthful energy and more passion than their peers, Zoetic sees A Sense of Purpose continuing their maturation process, giving fans of progressive metalcore a promising new(-ish) group to keep their eyes on, even if they’re still packing more potential than tangible payoff.
For Fans Of: Damned Spring Fragrantia, Structures, Veil of Maya, Erra
By: Connor Welsh