There has been major anticipation for the debut album from UK metallers Heart Of A Coward across the media and fans. Two years in the making “Hope & Hindrance” has emerged as a mighty and impressive beast of an album that more than exceeds expectations and wishes. The release is a bruising encounter with defiance, personal spite and anger, a formidable and consuming challenge that is as rewarding and satisfying as any release so far this year.
The sound of the Milton Keynes quintet is a weighty mix of groove metal and metalcore, the band bridging the genres and more to bring an enterprising and bulging sound. Tumultuous riffs, technical skill, and ingrained melodic grooves springing from and winding around the senses from each and every composition. Consisting of guitarists Carl Ayers and Steve Haycock, bassist Vishal “V” Khetia, drummer Christopher “Noddy” Mansbridge, and ex-Sylosis vocalist Jamie Graham, Heart Of A Coward take no prisoners on “Hope & Hindrance”. The release rampages and badgers the ear and beyond with heart stopping intensity and destructive invention but the band and their creativity is not just about power. The band infuse a distinct and intelligently crafted melodic progressive heart into their music that makes each song challenging, demanding but also openly engaging at the same time.
Opening song ‘Motion’ descends on the ear from a distance to then explode with venomous aggression, acidic melodies dripping off the crushing riffs and its hostile driven spine. The guitars swipe chunks of the senses whilst raging with technical expertise inspired from the varied likes of Meshuggah and Uneven Structure. The vocals of Graham spew words with a passionate caustic might, his growls far reaching and impressive but it is the balance brought by the clean parts that brings a rounded element to the songs.
Across all tracks the quality is high and consistent, the intelligent blend of thoughtful melodies and senses shaking ingenuity as on the remarkable ‘All Eyes To The Sky’ or the wonderfully abrasive and blackened ‘Nightmare’ just two examples of the band ripping away the emotional safety net with astringent and provocative majesty. The album twists and turns at every corner creating musical angles that disturb and persistently corrupt whilst intriguing and unleashing an unrelenting and gratifying infection.
The band turn up the furnace of insidious intensity and manipulations the highest on ‘Around A Girl (In 80 Days)’ and ‘We Stand As One’. The first tempers the violation with smoothly compelling vocal and harmonies to deflect from the corrosive urgency whilst the other rampages through the ear and over the senses with adversarial intent and sounds. The inhospitable intensity and spine shaking riffs are irresistible throughout the album but without the closely crafted and intricate invention either in the melodic aspects or the piercing ingenuity the album would just be another fine release. Instead it is an immense and deeply promising album that suggests and offers so much ahead from the band despite the greatness here.
‘Light’ takes a pleasing and unpredictable entrance to come in on; the emotive slow pacing of sound and vocals adding a Deftones atmospheric grace to the gradually building ominous tone. It is never allowed to break free though and the song dissipates into its own peace and silence, a perfect aside and added glorious moment to the album.
Closing on the skull bending ‘Break These Chains’ the album ensures it leaves on a great high. The song blisters and strips the senses until numb and openly grinning under its unsympathetic mass. The song even with its friendly melodic movements leaves one breathless and eager for much more.
It may have taken time to get here but “Hope & Hindrance” and Heart Of A Coward have ensured it was worth every second of the wait. The band have laid down a statement of intent and notice they will be a major part of UK metal sooner rather than later.