By Marvin Dotiyal, Features Editor
[Pure Noise; 2019]
Key tracks: “Your Own Knife”, “Wings of Nightmares”, “The Hands That Used to Hold Me”
Between the many intersections of metal and hardcore, melodic hardcore feels like a thing of a past. Early 2000s pioneers like Killing The Dream and Have Heart disbanded ages ago, while modern tastemakers including Capsize and Casey are now defunct. Melodic hardcore has been a subgenre driven by makeshift musical affairs that come and go incessantly, having never achieved a steadfast impact like its neighboring genres. The formula has already been perfected, and the gatekeepers don’t flinch. Not many bands really cut through the noise today—unless you’re Counterparts.
The Ontario-based quintet continues to forge ahead with their serrated, whiplash-inducing heaviness in their sixth full-length album, Nothing Left to Love. Advancing even further from the band’s refined effort in You’re Not You Anymore, this record flaunts their highest caliber, fomenting a musical versatility of dynamic metalcore songwriting while reinvigorating the raw aggression of hardcore. Even with anachronistic style tropes and a limited array of sonic elements that imprint the all-too-familiar, “melodic hardcore” tag, Nothing Left to Love doesn’t fail to compel listeners and let emotion flow organically with its relentless intensity.
The band makes this sentiment clear right off the bat with “Love Me”, a breakdown-driven opener that embeds the album title and its recurring motif: “Will you love with when there’s nothing left to love?” A simple question with a loaded concept, the album explores the power of love through layers of regret, forgiveness, loss and indignance.
Frontman Brendan Murphy’s poetic profundity sits perfectly in tune with the cutting guitar passages in anthemic numbers such as “Paradise and Plague” and “The Hands That Used to Hold Me”. While retaining wide hooks and metalcore-leaning breakdowns, the breakneck drum work in “Your Own Knife” and the emotional depth of the title track illustrate the heart of melodic hardcore, both of which hit contrasting yet noteworthy apexes in the record. The band also takes a progressive step up in “Imprints” and “Ocean of Another”, dissecting their go-to formula and carefully arranging them into intricate musical marvels that challenge their hallmark sound.
Counterparts have come a long way, making a defining impact in their own lane while also opening new ones to lead the scene and stir their musicianship as role models. Their back catalog is a rich resume of what they have to offer, and Nothing Left to Love checks all of the boxes that contributed to their burgeoning legacy. With a howling appetite and the musical prowess to match, this release has proven once again that Counterparts is one of the most persistent and potent bands to keep thriving in their respective communities.