Since forming in London in 2009, Heart Of A Coward have carved out a unique niche for themselves with a heavy, yet thoughtful, brand of metalcore. Their fifth long-player, This Place Only Brings Death finds a band who are comfortable in their collective skin, so much so that they’ve distilled their progressive leanings in favour of something far more direct. But don’t take this as a retrogressive move; the band are boldly facing down the future…and just you try to stop ‘em!
As befitting an album of this stature, the title-track is a strong opener and succinctly sets out the band’s stall. This isn’t a sound made for the faint-hearted, and ‘This Place Only Brings Death’ hits the listener right between the eyes. It is a full-on sonic assault; the vocals are red raw and sandblasted, the riffs are mazy and tie you up in concentric knots, whilst the rhythm section, operating with machine-like precision lands a succession of heavy blows. It’s an introduction that offers (or promises) little in the way of redemption, but you knew that on the way in.
This Place Only Brings Death is the kind of album that attacks you from several (and often unexpected) angles at the same time. Sonically it reminds me of classic Hatebreed, yet Heart Of A Coward have far more weaponry in their arsenal and are able to paint sound from a wider palate. Cuts such as ‘Ghost’ introduces textures hitherto unknown in the band’s canon, meaning that ‘Ghost’ is at once heavy as hell, yet contains passages that are light as a feather and the two conspire to pull us, like a victim stretched on the rack, in two separate directions.
The overarching feeling on the album is very dystopian. Tracks such as ‘Hex’ offer a frightening glimpse of a not-too-distant future, and that’s a feeling generated in no small part due to the band locking in mechanically, and it feels the age of AI has arrived, and with some vengeance. However, there’s plenty of variety on offer, and ‘Passenger’ kicks things up a gear and dovetails nicely with the following ‘Dehumanise’. An arresting closer, both sonically and lyrically, ‘All Life Is Finite’ creates a feeling of something so vast and immovable, it can barely be comprehended, and makes the silence that follows positively deafening.
While it is perfectly feasible to dip in and out, This Place Only Brings Death is an album that’s best consumed in one sitting to fully appreciate its ebb and flow. It’ll also reward close scrutiny, as neat little inflections and production tricks will reveal themselves on successive spins. Evidencing a band with a desire to forge forward, this album finds Heart Of A Coward at the top of their game.
- This Place Only Brings Death is released via Arising Empire on 22nd September 2023.
- This Place Only Brings Death
- Surrender To Failure
- Devour Me
- All Life Is Finite