Review: “Nothing Left To Love” by Counterparts

Hamilton Ontario Canadian’s Counterparts are a quintet that describe themselves as being Metalcore or Melodic Hardcore in equal measure but in reality are much harder to pigeon hole. As a band they’re seriously loved the World over by Metal and Hardcore fans alike and at the smaller shows we’ve never witnessed more fans on stage or grabbing the microphone than at their shows. Frontman Brendan Murphy mentioned in the build up to the release of “Nothing Left To Love” that the band weren’t about to break to mold of previous album “You’re Not You Anymore”, which many consider a career high. So what is left to love?

An 100 second opening in “Love Me” sets the tone by asking “Will you love me, when there is nothing left to love?” amid a barrage of hardcore riffs while stretching the vocal range between a whisper and a scream. Murphy seems to have found a new low in his voice recently and it makes for an impressive listen. “Wings Of Nightmares” brings in the lead flourishes of Metalcore with some emotive touches all delivered at breakneck speed. Everything has been turned up a couple of notches in the mix and production to give the album a slicker feel than its predecessor so it builds on its solid foundations. The mold may not be broken but it’s certainly expanded. “Paradise and Plague” continues the flow while adding a clean backing vocal in places to the caustic uncleans in the bridge sections to give a sing-a-long moment before a high quality breakdown. A song that speaks of having to leave family or a lover behind, the message is a emotional one that sees Murphy give an extra something vocally.

“The Hands That Used To Hold Me” leaves no room of doubt in the quality of Counterparts musicanship and the quality of the album as a whole. The band are in inspired form and execute everything to perfection from lead flourishes to brutally solid breakdowns and engaging lyrics and vocals. You’d struggle to find a Metal Head who didn’t fine something to enjoy here. What’s interesting about it is that the band are subtly getting progressively heavier without leaving any of their melodic capabilities behind. “Separate Wounds” opens with a slow building melodic pallette cleansing before stepping up into another slick and stand out cut. Stuccato riffage in the rhythmic gymnastics matched off by a stuccato lead over the top is masterful while the big chorus of uncleans backed by cleans in a not quite gang chant will go down well live. “Your Own Knife” has a classic pick slide intro and a galloping groove while Murphy brings to the table some of the most throat shredding vocals we’ve heard in the bands entire career. A couple of pauses for spoken word shorts mean the music packs more punch when it cuts back in and the dark atmospheric is an absolute pleasure.

“Cherished” follows up the heavier cut with a return to the album as a whole sound. Rooted in the early 2000’s Metalcore sound but modernized with everything leaned since, it’s a fabulous wrecking ball of Metallic Hardcore tune. “I am the dagger I will drive into my heart”¬†screams Murphy soaked in self loathing angst. It’s savage and fun. Musically, “Imprints” races from the gate with a high energy enthusiasm that are in perfect contradiction to the lyrics that simply say “I hate it hear and I never want to leave”. Looking into the eyes of your own fate and venting with pure catharis, it’s a powerful statement piece in an an album littered with them and gives plenty to think about when the headbanging and circle pits are over. “Oceans Of Another” wraps it’s arms around your throat and squeezes until their is nothing left with a blunt instrument of Metallic Hardcore violence before a jazzy melodic break gives it a point of difference and atmospheric that isn’t present anywhere else. It’s a well worked moment and then is returned to for the opening of the album title track. “Nothing Left To Love” brings melodic ocean groove guitars and pained clean vocals speaking of suicidal thoughts around all that has been loved and lost. Taking the vocal lines from the opening track, it wraps around with some beautiful harmonics though it never reaches the heavier end of the album material when it steps up the pace and energy to close. Counterparts have delivered a vibrant technicolor album of powerhouse material that… Just go listen [9/10]

Track listing

  1. Love Me
  2. Wings Of Nightmares
  3. Paradise and Plague
  4. The Hands That Used To Hold Me
  5. Separate Wounds
  6. Your Own Knife
  7. Cherished
  8. Imprints
  9. Ocean Of Another
  10. Nothing Left To Love

“Nothing Left To Love” by Counterparts out now via Pure Noise Records

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