Metalcore, as a multifaceted genre, with a history three decades deep, can be difficult to execute.
So pliable and vast is the genre on technical, emotional levels that its most infamous wellspring, the late '90s and early '00s, produced a library of stylistic cornerstones.
The subsequent wellspring, one within which I raised myself, riffed on the Gothenburg-sound, leading to popularity that has endured to this day. Anyone reading this likely does not require a history lesson, but it’s important to understand just how integral the current wellspring is in the grand picture.
The bands of now, with access to the cornerstones and popularity, attack their sound with creative vigor, crafting releases on par with their forebears. In short, it’s cool as fuck to see happening.
Despite the sheer variance of its palette, it is easy to stumble into formula, the verse-breakdown-chorus-verse-breakdown rinse & repeat. I get it, tweaking a riff here, slowing a breakdown there, it’s all for the fun of the live setting. It’s also, genre-wise, woefully self-reflexive, and denies metalcore its tensile potential. Enter the point, which I’m finally getting around to, sorry, that is Delaware’s Foreign Hands, plus their new EP, Bleed the Dream.
Bleed the Dream is flawless, so flawless in fact that I have returned from my mid-30s college-induced semi-retirement on reviewing to shower its five songs with praise.
To be fair, my opinion of Foreign Hands has always been high: they are among a scant few of the newer artists who have yet to release even a mediocre song. Hyperbolic it may be, but have you listened to their 2018 promo or Lapsed Requiems, their split with the also fantastic Cast in Blood? No, then maybe you should, so you know what I’m babbling about here.
Despite the lofty height of my opinion, Foreign Hands delivers both an interrogation and celebration of metalcore’s lineage. While 'Bleed the Dream' is not self-reflexivity free: its strength is how it denies those pitfalls while effortlessly navigating them.
Inspiration runs lovingly throughout: the homicidal tones from When Forever Comes Crashing, the protean writing and vocal performances found on Tear from the Red, and the somber pathos of Until the Day Breathes and the Shadows Flee. It’s all here, an alchemic joy of metalcore’s revered delights, made anew.
“Separation Souvenir,” the EP’s single, is exemplar of the work’s melding of its various genre components. It is the best song on Bleed the Dream, so good that I have listened to it at least once a day over the last week, to say nothing of the dozen repeats following its release. The song is awash with the expected savagery, but it’s the finale where “Separation Souvenir” shines. The twinkling interlude, brief and gentle amid violence, bursts open with an impeccably placed double tom hit, segueing into an ever-escalating breakdown.
The title track is of a quality all its own, a finale blessed with sections of spry melodies that hew closer to post-hardcore that gently fade into what is my favorite breakdowns in recent memory. It’s a moment that had me in awe, warranting a half dozen rewinds: trust that there are numerous such moments throughout.
Considering Bleed the Dream’s careful devotion to the metalcore sacred texts, down to the artwork, it’s only appropriate that this was my first CD purchase since 2010. Happy to do it in fact, since Adele took all the vinyl, allegedly, but the format is just another cherry on top of what is an excellent sundae of genre delights.
The question does beg, however: LP when?
Tagged: foreign hands