Over the last couple years, hardcore’s melodic subgenres have…well, gotten the shaft. Save a precious few that have either erupted or stayed their course, many of hardcore’s more emotional and melodic constituents have either dissolved or switched things up. Don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing wrong with that—it’s just left fans of the genre with a relative paucity of bands, considering mere years ago it was lush with new, exciting and intense bands that blended melodic metal components into a backbone of ferocious, riveting hardcore. With that in mind, the United Kingdom’s Values offer their input—by way of blending fast-paced melodic hardcore with bouncy, bold metalcore on Divinity. Using everything from flashy riffs to furious breakdowns at their disposal, Values take a genre well known to most heavy music enthusiasts and flip it on its ear, adding both atmospheric and aggressive, dissonant elements to blend it heavily with metalcore of a vaguely progressive moiety. The result is an engaging release that speaks loudly, but from the heart, refusing to sacrifice energy or intensity to deliver a heartfelt message with some serious heft.
Divinity feels, in many ways, as though Values are the natural successors to UK-based technically infused melodic hardcore act, Napoleon. Throughout the record, the drums are punchy, yet fluid—heard excellently on the record’s opening tracks, “Temperance” and “Honesty.’ While “Temperance” is a barn-burner of a cut, using rambunctious percussion as the foundation for frantic fretwork and thick, groovy bass, “Honesty” is a more balanced song, archetypal of Divinity as a whole. Here, as well as on “Wit” and “Honour,” the band’s drumming oscillates from flashy, fill heavy patterns to more subdued segments with a strong and pronounced pocket, while luscious bass fills out the band’s already-robust kick drum. Likewise, the guitar throughout these songs varies, with many songs beginning in a familiar (bordering on monotonous) riff that expands and blossoms into something unique and mesmerizing throughout each song. “Wit” exemplifies this beautifully, with a subdued introduction that takes the listener on journeys through gutbusting breakdowns and moments of breathtaking beauty alike. “Patience,” on the other hand, is a more thoroughly abrasive and aggressive song, a la “Temperance,” with a crushing breakdown and moody, thematic and dark verses with relatively minimalistic percussion to show for its name. Divinity is instrumentally engaging, although with the introductions to many of the songs sounding and feeling the same, it can be easy to sort of glide through the record on autopilot after one’s first listen, only really snapping out of it for moments like those heard towards the tail end of “Wit” and “Patience.”
Where the beast known as monotony intermittently rears its head in consideration of the band’s instrumental elements, Values’ vocal work is diverse and comprehensive. With harshly sang segments linking together soaring, melodic choruses and blistering, visceral verses, Divinity hits the nail on the head for bringing together vocal influence from both melodic hardcore (early Counterparts and Napoleon) with contemporary metalcore (distinctly reminiscent of Architects). In fact, the only area where Values faulter on the vocal front is the first minute or so of “Patience,” which showcases a rap segment which feels…well, not bad, but awkward. While it isn’t a total bomb, the opening verse features a rapped stanza with curious candor over an otherwise mesmerizing riff; this really fails to tie in with the remainder of the song, especially considering much of the back half of “Patience” is some of the heaviest material on Divinity. Even with that in mind, the vocal contributions towards Divinity can really only be considered a total success, with passionate and emotional lyrics shining through, delivered on a vector of heartfelt screams and sensational singing.
Divinity is a multifaceted release that plays on the strengths of melodic hardcore and metalcore both. With some technically impressive fretwork, energetic drumming and driving, sincere vocals, Values have created a full length record with some real stopping power. With just a touch more attention to song structure and writing throughout the release, the next album Values drop could truly be divine.
For Fans Of: Napoleon, Shields UK, Counterparts, Architects
By: Connor Welsh