Beartooth is one of the most recognizable names in the scene thanks to frontman, Caleb Shomo of Attack, Attack! fame. A side project turned to full-time venture, Beartooth has released two full studio albums since 2014, Disgusting, Aggressive and now Disease (via Red Bull Records) adds to the discography that represents Shomo’s best work. That’s to say that Shomo is the key musician in this band contributing to every element.
A series of web videos give you an insight into the first track, ‘Greatness Or Death.’ Caleb introduces the record with an acoustic guitar that soon powers through with the proper dose of screams and cleans. The breakdown after a couple of minutes really puts you into the groove of what the Beartooth hardcore sound is—a great opener, nonetheless. Title-track ‘Disease’ is one of the catchiest tracks the band has ever created and is mixed so well with the instruments and the vocals. The structure and groove really assimilates struggle with depression that will connect with many.
‘Fire’ follows again with the same catchy melody with one of the best punk-rock choruses off the record. You can hear a resemblance to Shomo’s work in Attack, Attack! Listeners will find that he really executes the best vocal performance in this album. ‘You Never Know’ showcases his full range again with a phenomenal chorus—it will have you singing along spin after spin.
‘Bad Listener’ was released alongside ‘Disease’ but the fifth track is heavier and grittier. It’s a nice change of pace from the first four tracks with an intense breakdown. ‘Afterall’s’ biggest highlight is in the lyrics, not so much on the performance. There are parts in the song where it could have had a different melody because the vocal harmonies are pretty high. ‘Manipulation’ starts off pretty heavy and there’s a long but fitting transition between the verses. The track is bass heavy and the percussion line here shines the best. ‘Enemy’ is straight to the point—aggressive. Beartooth really knows how to balance out heaviness and melodies in this track that really has you hooked through the breakdown.
At this point, the record becomes a bit bland. ‘Believe’ was released as a single but it’s just a straight to the point track. It’s one or maybe the only one song that couldn’t have been kept off the album. The same can be said about ‘Infection’ which is ok and a bit lackluster. ‘Used and Abused’ is hard but basic. The bridge really saves it along with the chorus and old fans might appreciate it because it sounds like old Beartooth but falls short of being an overall great track. Yet, the album closes with one of the best tracks. On a softer note, ‘Clever’ is one of the best written on the record. The band takes a risk on this closer, and executes a well-written track—something you wouldn’t expect and never listened to this band prior to this release or its singles.
Disease has its ups and downs but overall is a good effort for fans that have been following Shomo and company from the beginning. Where the heaviness and melodic comes through, the record really shines. But there are points where it’s missing some creativity and leaves you with just another Beartooth album with an unexpected send-off.