Artist: To Kill Achilles
Album: Something to Remember Me By
For many people, the inherent fear of death stems not only from the end of life, but from the notion that once their life is over, there will be nothing left to commemorate their existence on earth. They fear the world will just keep on spinning the same as it always has, without so much of a pause at the notion that they’re no longer there. And it does. That’s exactly what happens—and for some of those people, their purpose in life becomes an attempt to make something permanent out of the transient experience that is life; to leave those they’ve left behind something to remember them by. To Kill Achilles are clearly no strangers to the notion—and on their 2021 full length record of a similar name, they spend the better part of an hour expressing the futility of life and the struggles that come with trying to leave a lasting impact on the ones they love. Something to Remember Me By is an emotionally poignant record that blends melodic hardcore and hard-hitting metalcore into a catchy, energetic release that confidently strides a balance between heartfelt and heavy. The question remains, however: is their latest record truly enough for them to be remembered by?
Something to Remember Me By is a conceptually-driven blend of melodic hardcore and metalcore that feels something like a Counterparts (Prophets-era Counterparts, that is) and Defeater blend. On paper, that sounds damn good, and in execution it follows through pretty well. From the get-go on “Fourpercent,” the act waste no time in showcasing their expertise when it comes to blending driving, hard-hitting harmonies in with topsy-turvy breakdowns. This dynamic sees further growth on cuts like “There’s No Right to Say This…” and “Oh God, I’ve Never Felt So Low.” Here, the percussion leads the show, with thick kick drums antagonizing a snappy, sharp snare. Other songs—like the record closer, as well as the interludes peppered throughout Something to Remember Me By see the band experimenting with atmosphere and simplicity to add depth to their dynamic. The in-between moments lie in songs like “On My Mind” and “21:36,” wherein beautiful, blossoming fretwork soars over power-house percussion and slinking, snapping bass to create an energetic sonic canvas that rolls beautifully between moments of turbulence and tepid serenity. Those moments—like those on “21:36’—are arguably where To Kill Achilles are at their best; truly blending aggression with beauty in a melancholic fashion that bleeds 2000s melodic hardcore. Its moments like those that define Something to Remember Me By, which, in context, makes the interludes feel almost lost in the shuffle, and the overtly frantic and frenzied tracks feel a little too frenzied for their own good—even if they do add a nice hefty roundhouse into To Kill Achilles’ arsenal.
Where Something to Remember Me By is both at its best and worst is with the vocal and lyrical element, respectively. Truly channeling the aforementioned influences, To Kill Achilles use Something to Remember Me By as a relative eulogy of sorts—as each song seems to contriute a chapter towards the protagonist’s life. This is hugely successful in some places—“21:36” and “We Only Exist When We Exist Together”—and falters a bit in others. Where the lyrics take a hefty swing at poignant, heartfelt emotion, the vocals do the same, using a raw, visceral shout to channel the primal, unfiltered sentiments and feelings that run abound through Something to Remember Me By. Again, these vocals are perfect in songs like “Fourpercent” and “There’s No Right to Say This…,” but on the otherwise ambient cuts, like the record’s closing number, they feel out of place and seem to detract from the atmosphere set by the otherwise entrancing instrumentation and carefully penned lyrics. In many ways, this sort of win-some-lose-some effect defines the vocal and lyrical approach To Kill Achilles take on their 2021 full length release. When they’re on, they truly pack the emotional and energetic wallop needed to seal them into the genre’s record books. However, when everything doesn’t align just so, many of the songs end up feeling like the lyrics try too hard to be poetic or heartfelt, and end up a mismatch for the band’s otherwise solid vocal performance—or vice-versa.
Something to Remember Me By is a strong outing. Even where there are some stutters and pitfalls, the moments that define this record not only define the band’s career, but define the contemporary stylings of their genre as a whole. Some of modern melodic hardcore’s most riveting moments can be found speckled throughout To Kill Achilles’ latest work—which is no light complement given the extent of excellent bands the genre has to offer. However where there is light, there is also some darkness, as often throughout the hour-long sojourn, the listener finds themselves dragging, pushing to get through to the new ray of breathtaking brilliance. But at the end of the day, Something to Remember Me By is, if nothing else, memorable.
For Fans Of: Defeater, Modern Life Is War, Counterparts, Hundredth (pre-2012)
By: Connor Welsh