Sound — 9
In the world of music, there are so many bands that get labeled things and that get thrown in this category or that category, and a lot of them get lost in the mix because of the label or the sub-genre, and oftentimes unique and innovative bands are lost because of a false tag that people place on them. So, with that in mind, Beloved, one such band that is impossible to tag with one genre of music, needs to be looked at from an objective perspective. The main label is emocore, a dreaded genre that is hated by all "musicians" and tagged as crap more often than not. And you know what, I don't like emocore as well. Beloved totally misses this. Not one song on the brilliant "Failure On" is about a lost love, a girlfriend, or cutting yourself. They don't fall into blandness, and they have a sense of desperation heard in few other bands. If you like hardcore, beautiful music, or both, then this is a must listen. This is not straight hardcore, this is not emocore, this is not metal, this is not hard rock, it is Beloved, and nothing less. Anyway, let's get down to what makes a band good or bad, regardless of genre: the music. Forget what you know about aforementioned genres and read on. From the opening "Failure On My Lips", to the closing "Insult To Injury", Beloved will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions for desperation to happiness to chaos and everything in between. The opener, "Failure On My Lips" starts out with a sweet, simple and urgent sounding riff. This band uses the three guitars of Josh Moore, Matt Harrison, and Dusty Redmon to great effect. Everything is playing in great harmony and it makes the music sound textured and sweet. But as they rip thru the first part of the song and into the second, you will see what this band is trying to balance. They said it themselves on their website, they want to put beauty into hardcore, and they have done that. Josh Moore, the singer/guitarist of the band, delivers great, desperate vocals that aren't whiney and aren't annoying at all. Then they rip into the first breakdown, where drummer/screaming vocalist Joe Musten puts his two cents in the mix. There is some awesome, high riffing going on over top of the low-end breakdown, and it is chilling and awesome in effect with the screaming. The screaming is great too, and I will elaborate more on that later in the vocal section. Anyway, it goes from the heavy breakdowns to the awesome desperate parts, and then the song cuts into this amazing, beautiful, soaring guitar part with Josh singing that sends chills down my spine every time I listen to it. I can't describe this sound, but I like it. This song ends, and the next, "Only Our Faces Hide" hits, and it is much in the same vein, but it a different manner. It is actually, sonically it is hard to describe, but it sounds desperate and is well done and the whole CD follows suit. From the hardcore riffing to the beautiful, relaxing ending, "Death To Traitors" comes at you a few songs later and is a great pivot point for the album. The next three songs, "Defect From Decay", "Watching The Lines Blur", and "Inner Pattern" take the darker, more somber route, with less of the beauty and more of the desperate sense of urgency that this band has in spades. The texts for these songs have some very memorable lines and it fits. Then comes the 8th song, "Aimless Endeavor", witch has a sweet music video if you can find it somewhere, rocks you down too. This captures the full essence of the Beloved sound. It has a nice, eerie riff that makes you feel like something is not right in the world, and then into some melodic singing with some more screaming to follow suit. An excellent song. Then onto the slower "Allure", witch is a great slow song. Then the closer "Insult To Injury", witch starts out with a cool, punk-ish riff, and then runs you right into a sonic wall with a huge breakdown and some more screaming, and then ends with a great, pretty, and airy riff. Many hardcore bands have tried to do what Beloved did and they all fail or do a bad job. This is taking all these little different pieces of music and putting them together into a great package. The only people who wont like this are those people that only listen to sludgy hardcore or nothing but metal. I love metal the most, but every now and then a hardcore band will catch my ears, and this is one of those that I just dig. This is well worth your money.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics, they really shine. This is a Christian band, but they do not preach with their lyrics, and they do not talk about girls. They look at themselves and the world with a slightly negative view but with a hope to change. That's what makes this band cool, the lyrics are deep and poetic and far out there sometimes, but it works really well. But before I can explain all that, I must first explain the vocals. It breaks down really well, Josh Moore sings on the stuff that is more like straight up rock or punk and the pretty stuff, and Joe Musten screams on the heavy stuff. It is cool how he can play some pretty deep patterns and drum at the same time. He is very talented, and his vocals are more like yelling then screaming. He gets to sing the more violent stuff, but again, it fits. He doesn't yell over the pretty stuff, with the closing song being the sole exception. Some of the lines that he sings, like "if this is a crutch for the weak, then cut off my arms, and break my legs, so I don't feel this anymore" are really fitting. It rocks. And Beloved has some great lines to. Like when Matt passionately sings "Were escaping your securities" on "Watching The Lines Blur", it is just cool in the context of the song. The lyrics are definitely worth checking out. Great, great stuff, without being cheesy (i.e. I hate my life cause my girl didn't call today) or generic, and for being just deep enough that it is hard to interpret but not impossible. All in all, they are very strong in this section.
Overall Impression — 9
This is great for any fan of hardcore, hard rock, or punk, and a great gateway into more heavy music for fans of genres like emo or pop-punk (aren't they the same thing, I don't know). They have a sound like no other, and it is sad that they had to break up last year. Seriously, this band is worth checking out. The sound is hard to describe and hard to compare to any band I have ever heard. The songs are really great and the musicianship is simple in some places and complex in others. Good stuff. The only thing that could make this better (as always) would be some killer lead guitar solos, but we can't always have it my way. Oh well. So seriously, drop all pre-conceived notions about the "new" Solid State Records, the emocore tag, and anything else you have heard (or not heard) about this band. This will take you on a sonic and emotional roller coaster ride, and I think you will want to do it over and over again. It is a shame, Beloved really broke up before it's time, and it would be incredible to see where they would have gotten. Just do yourself a favor and check this out; it is something you don't want to miss.