The first release in six years from Australian metalcore band I Killed The Prom Queen, new album “Beloved“ roars and seduces with craft and imagination whilst providing a colourful canvas to get the thoughts and emotions engaged with. In many ways it continues in similar vein to previous release “Music For The Recently Deceased” and like their last album “Beloved” ebbs and flows in success, at times inspiring with incendiary moments and in others being an underwhelming proposition. It is though, an enjoyable confrontation, occasionally a captivating one, but never one to set any major fires burning in the genre or passions.
Returning from his time with firstly Bleeding Through and then Bring Me The Horizon, songwriter/guitarist and the band’s remaining founding member Jona Weinhofen brought I Killed The Prom Queen back from its hiatus in 2011, a break instigated by his joining of the former and the departure of vocalist Ed Butcher. Alongside returning guitarist Kevin Cameron, and new members in bassist Benjamin Coyte, drummer Shane O’Brien, and vocalist Jamie Hope, Weinhofen shows he has lost none of his songwriting invention and the band its dramatic intensity in presence and sound. Now signed to Epitaph Records, they unveil a creatively sizeable proposition, but not one to linger long in the memory.
Recorded with Fredrik Nordström, “Beloved” opens with the portentous ‘Beginning Of The End’, a short track opening on a slow acoustic and emotive stroking of ears before its elegant atmosphere expands and envelopes the senses. It is an evocative coaxing of thoughts but one eventually smothered by Hope‘s caustic vocal squalls and a heavy intensity at its climax. The track gives insight of things ahead, the music attention grabbing and provocatively potent but the raw delivery of Hope an unbalancing abrasion which too often struggles within songs.
The following ‘To The Wolves’ sets up inciting themes sonically and rhythmically first, the track building powerful walls and a sonic design which entwines tightly around thoughts with familiarity and freshness. Reaching its optimum intent the song explodes and savages with antagonistic rabidity, the vocals again scarring without any appealing context. It has to be said that there is little wrong with the style of Hope but very often it does not fit the creative enterprise bubbling around him, instead being a distractive element, though when the song takes a carnivorous turn at its finale his presence is perfect. Again in the next up ‘Bright Enough’, his tones find mixed success, his darkest most vicious assaults pleasing in the right place but failing elsewhere. The track itself is a thick inventive endeavour, the clean vocal delivery of Weinhofen excellent whilst the rich guitar hues spark imagination and song to greater potency.
Both ‘Melior’ and ‘Thirty One & Seven’ provide a satisfying provocation, though both have the ailments of the previous songs so find mixed success with thoughts; the jagged djent kissed riffery of the first and the explosive rhythmic buffeting and twisting sonic intrigue of the second ensuring an infectious bait which excites. Ultimately the tracks do not linger long after they departure, something ‘Calvert Street’ certainly has no problem achieving. The song brawls and riles the senses from its opening vocal and sonic maelstrom, the initial bruising an intrusive storm which hits hard and opens up attention but it is the subsequent torrential tempest of invention and melodic toxicity alongside outstanding clean vocals which turns a keen appetite into hunger. The enticing melody bred mystique which underlies the track also leaves emotions full whilst its barbarous side blows away the cobwebs in the passions. It is an outstanding encounter, easily the best on the album as clean vocals and experimental designs exhilarate.
From here on in the album does the business without sparking any particular decisive reactions, the senses embracing ‘Kjærlighet’ providing another inspiring moment, its harmonies and guitar sculpted narrative bewitching within the intensive rhythmic cage, but again the coarse vocals defuse too much of its success. The pair of ‘The Beaten Path’ and ‘Nightmares’ feed expectations too much to stand out as anything more than enjoyable whilst the closing two of ‘No One Will Save Us’ and ‘Brevity’ confirm the undoubted musicianship and invention within band and songwriting but, as the album, fail to find the spark to greatness.
“Beloved” is easy to enjoy but with too many reservations to enthuse greatly over.