Released on Saturday 19 December 2020
For fans of Attila, Avenged Sevenfold, Falling in Reverse
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US metalcore/hard rock band The Doubted formed in 2016 in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, straight out of high school. They gained their second guitarist (Chris Melvin) when they moved to Los Angeles from 2018 to 2020. During those two years, their guitarists attended school at the Musicians Institute (formerly called The Guitar Institute of Technology) before returning to Cape Girardeau to pursue their career in Missouri. Surfacing (2020) is their debut album.
The album opens with the distant sound of war and helicopters before a simple, repeating guitar motif introduces the rest of the band. Drums and bass crash. “Among the rest” (track 1) melds seamlessly into “Unveil me” (track 2). It reminds me of Helloween until the main guitar riff kicks in and Morse’s edgy vocals carve into the song. This is a great start!
“Rise” (track 3) opens with a solid riff, that ‘bubbly’ metalcore thing and then a face-to-the-wall riff and vocals that without warning switch between gruff and melodic. It’s a solid song.
“Darkness within” (track 4) takes the album in a new direction: a delicate, atmospheric intro reveals a more melodic side to the band—dipping occasionally into darker, heavier waters. The John Petrucci-esque (Dream Theater) guitar solo towards the end is one of the highlights of this album.
The open riff for “Disease” (track 5) feels like a more straight-forward rocker, but it quickly sits back into an almost metalcore reggae groove! This is one of my favourite songs on the album, the way it twists and turns, grabbing at genres and influences as it builds around a gentle melody. The driven riff that sees the song out is fun!
“The more you know” (track 6) opens with a pleasing, bobbing riff that seriously picks up momentum into a face-ripping exhibition resplendent with gruff vocals and dark, melodic choruses. Oh, this is good and we’re only halfway through the album.
“The world’s gone under” (track 7) introduces us to the modulation and vibrato guitar pedals beneath the guitarists’ feet! The song opens up to a sweepingly lush strumming guitar progression, melodic vocals with more than a pinch of nu metal/pop punk influence.
Title track “Surfacing” (track 8) starts with quiet guitar in a landscape of reverb over which a buzzing solo soars, before dawn breaks and the crushing machinery of metalcore bursts into life. It’s a powerful song, filled with dynamics and experimentation.
“I see flesh, you see flames” (track 9) has an almost orchestral beginning that is soon battered out on a snare into a rumbling storm of fury and some of the heaviest vocals on the album.
The shortest song on the album, “Revelation” (track 10) has film soundtrack potential. An atmospheric, strings and drums composition that serves as an introduction and contrast to the brutally heavy “Someone has to to pay” (track 11). If only for the odd time signatures, fierce intensity, acidic-sounding tones and the contrasting almost jazz-like middle-section, this is one of the standout tracks on the album.
The ironically-named album closer, “…Only the beginning” (track 12), reminds me of the soundtrack to the 2015 computer game from The Chinese Room, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Atmospheric and hauntingly beautiful, it acts as a palate cleanser to whatever horrors await beyond.
This album has all the energy, enthusiasm and ambition of a young band fresh out of music college searching for their place and sound in the musical landscape. As I have said before, I’m not the world’s greatest fan of metalcore, but these guys deliver it in a way that makes me sit up and pay attention.
I sat in silence for a few minutes after I’d listened to this album, letting the experience wash over me. I felt like I had been taken on a journey, that I was seeing the world in slightly different way … which is exactly how playing the game Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture also left me.
Getting on for two-and-a-half years old, this album absolutely deserves to be heard more widely. Doubt no more, give it a listen!
Review score: 85%
MDPR contacted me inviting me to preview The Doubted’s latest album, thank you. I have no connections to either MDPR or The Doubted. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to Zach from MDPR, and to The Doubted for continuing to create fresh, exciting new music.