Between their beginnings in 2009 and this their new album, Californian band Troubled Coast showed much promise with their debut “Vagabonds EP” and mini album “100 Miles From Home”. Now, new release “Letters” stands tall in the aim of furthering their sound and realising that promise. It comes filled with twelve songs that offer a new route for their music, even if not a new direction with the group keeping their hardcore sound as solidly as before, just now they have infused more melodic variations. The Bay Area quintet has the hardcore punk sound well within their grasp, slamming it home with vibrant energy, aggression and a forceful delivery; with “Letters” though they have also brought in some diversity in their ideas and sound to show a progression and anticipation for their future releases.

The album starts off with the expected sound from Troubled Coast, as the brief but dynamic ‘Amends’ slams down hard drums, strong riffs and growling vocals. It plays without any extravagance or complications, just straight no frills hardcore power. ‘Wolf Republic’ follows in the same vein with an excellent bass riff that excels within a punk thrash attack. There is nothing ground breaking here but it is certainly a strong and satisfying start to the album.

‘Breathing’ is the first track to bring a new flavour to the sound of Troubled Coast with its deliberate slow delivered feel similar in style to Deftones, especially the sometimes slow drawl vocals and whining guitars. This combines nicely with the dual clean and rough shouting attack over urgent stirring noises courtesy of harsher guitars and drums.  Through tracks such as ‘Drug Halo’, with its hard rhythm attack and meandering melodic guitar direction, the pop punk of ‘Feigned Belief’, and more emotive storytelling style of ‘XX/XY’, the band bring in new things to stretch their music and on the whole solidly succeed without moving too far from their core sound.

Where “Letters” starts off solidly, it ends on a real high with the duo of tracks ‘A Shallow Place’ and ‘Love’. The first is a creatively formed track evolving from its slow burn start into an almost dirge like flow, littered with good mellower melodic interjections. It has a haunting like quality brought out by a good cello sound fusing with the slow grind that runs through it. The latter track built upon a great spine of hypnotic drums and sombre bass, well laid down and designed guitar textures help make this the best track on the release.

There is no doubt “Letters” is a strong piece of thought out and executed blend of newer variants on their established post-hardcore sound but it evades becoming a release that is more than just pleasingly strong due to the harsher side of the vocals. Though they are decent enough, they lack any real variation, sounding at times one dimensional and a pummelling blast of noise that wears one down. This does not make the release a bad one just makes it hard to listen as intently as the songs deserve, in one go.

Troubled Coast show good promise and indication they are well on the way to creating their own unique sound that blends mature melodic and sensitive music with a punk-infused hardcore. “Letters” is well worth attention and any flaws are cosmetic rather than deeply veined through their core sound. Troubled Coast will be making a bigger noise in the future, once they find their own, more distinct sound.

Troubled Coast – MySpace page