Sound — 5
With Attack Attack! being a byproduct of the hair-dye-stained, skinny-jeaned, Vans-sponsored emo scene of the latter end of the previous decade, their fanbase was easy to amass because they were one in the same. This also made it easy to amass the heaping amounts of hatred from the droves of people that wretched at the scene culture, watching the young electronicore group bask in fame with contempt akin to how people would watch the cast of "Jersey Shore." While AA has come to an end, Caleb Shomo, the former keyboardist/vocalist for AA that joined at the remarkably young age of 15, has no plans to let AA be the last or only music endeavor he'll be known for, and immediately after his departure from AA, he announced his new metalcore project, Beartooth. Shomo would be the absolute creative force in this new project, taking all the responsibilities from songwriting and tracking instruments to mixing and mastering. After releasing a few singles, the debut EP "Sick," and playing a handful of shows, Beartooth is now releasing its debut album, "Disgusting."
Safely assuming that Shomo made very conscious decisions to set his new music endeavor away from the inflammatory notoriety of AA, there are two main differences found in the compositions of "Disgusting": it avoids overly-chuggy riffs (for the most part), and it throws away the cheesy synths (which is ironic, seeing as Shomo was the keyboardist of AA). Although you won't catch a reminiscence of AA, it won't take more than a couple minutes into the first track, "The Lines," to realize what- or rather, whose- sound is being emulated: A Day To Remember. By and large, "Disgusting" utilizes the ADTR formula of one part metalcore with one part pop-punk, so once again, Shomo's music is in a position to be immediately loved or hated. With heavy verses, clean & melodic choruses, and breakdowns you can see coming from a mile away, traveling through this album from front to back contains sounds and styles as varied as the scenery while traveling on the open sea.
There are some memorable parts to point to, though. The guitar riffage in "Body Bag," and Shomo's energetic drumming in "I Have a Problem" makes these songs rise to the upper part of the barrel; "Dead" is a 135-second whirlwind of rage that opens with a ferocious, thrash-inspired format, which is not just the heaviest moment on the album, but also the most refreshing; and while "Keep Your American Dream" comes off as the biggest ADTR knockoff of the album, it's actually not a bad knockoff, containing arguably the best breakdown on the album. After the notable things, though, the composition elements are very status quo, but the element that drags the most is the vocals. Shomo's voice is trapped in limbo between being too hoarse for good clean vocals and not strong enough for good harsh vocals, which makes the heavy verses less potent and the clean choruses less pristine. However, the ending track, "Sick & Disgusting," utilizes this integral imperfection in a way that works, with Shomo creating the track as a melodramatic confessional to his father, where his total loss of composure in the subject of the song is reflected by the haphazard nature of the instruments and his chaotic, disheveled screaming - but deciding whether it's a genuine and artful display of unfiltered sentiment or simply "emo bullsh-t" is left to one's discretion.
Lyrics — 5
The lyrics in "Disgusting" further display Shomo's role as the one and only director of the album, with subject matter addressing numerous personal issues - from alcoholism (in "Relapse" and "I Have a Problem") to depression and suicide (in "Ignorance Is Bliss," "Me in My Own Head" and "Body Bag") and child abuse (in "Beaten in Lips" and "Sick & Disgusting"). While the end results of pop-punk-style toplines and doe-eyed motivation do come off like transcripts from after-school specials, knowing that Shomo's lyrics speak from past experiences helps the case that his heart is in the right place - and the fact that these lyrics are much less irritating than lyrics found in Attack Attack! songs is something else to appreciate. However, other songs, like the bland societal criticism of "Keep Your American Dream" and the ambiguous uplifter "In Between" come off as formulaic in the lyrical aspect as they do in the sound aspect, and the hyperbolic meltdown of "Sick & Disgusting" comes off like a drama school freshman trying way too hard on his monologue.
Overall Impression — 5
Though it can be considered fortunate that "Disgusting" is in no way a séance to call back AA's sound from the proverbial grave, the adherence to the popular formula of metalcore/pop-punk fusion seems like a very safe attempt by Shomo to carry AA fans over to support Beartooth with minimal turbulence. Shomo may have been successful in that, and will most likely nab more fans that have an affinity for the metalcore/pop-punk style, but the choice to go down this very beaten musical path ends up being underwhelming. While it's not a dismal album, "Disgusting" doesn't do very much to set itself apart from its peers - probably because it's directly inspired by its peers.