New Hampshire/ Massachusetts based Youth Funeral’s debut full-length Heavenward begins as one hopes it would, with a chaotic burst of energy that gives the listener an immediate sense of what their bleak brand of fast-paced hardcore is all about: blasting drums, rumbling bass, and octave based guitar leads towered over by vocalist Casey Nealon’s gruff rhythmic yell.
What marks Heavenward as a major step forward for the band comes in their ability to work outside the confines of aggressive music. Youth Funeral shows their versatility in tracks like “Only In Sleep” which begins with a whirlwind of pick slides and punk beats that could lead into a straight ahead song yet takes the listener in another direction entirely, lolling lazily into a sliding guitar lead over a fuzzed out two-chord progression.
While the hopeless feeling that dominates the beginning of the record remains, Youth Funeral presents the raw emotion found earlier in a new form that brings a welcome change of dynamic and pace. “Shadow Phases” similarly finds the band working outside of their comfort zone by adding an off-kilter groove in the middle of the song that makes the plummeting conclusion all the more poignant.
Heavenward at times captures the feedback driven aggression of modern acts like Loma Prieta and Lord Snow, but Youth Funeral sets itself apart from current trends in hardcore by writing unpredictable, jarring music that fearlessly defies expectations of both genre and form. Some of the more dynamic songs show an active attempt to move away from their more dissonant spastic sound, while tracks like “Unthought” and “Armors” remind us that Youth Funeral are still proficient when it comes to writing on-point, driving hardcore music.
With Heavenward, Youth Funeral embraces its roots as an east coast hardcore act while making a conscious effort to move away from the tropes of simply structured aggressive music for a more engaging listen.
02. Amber Light
03. Only In Sleep Safe
04. Lonely Man
06. Shadow Phases
11. With Love I Weep