The Surface

Red Bull Records
rating icon 7.5 / 10

Track listing:

1. The Surface
2. Riptide
3. Doubt Me
4. The Better Me (Feat. Hardy)
5. Might Love Myself
6. Sunshine!
7. What's Killing You
8. Look The Other Way
9. What Are You Waiting For
10. My New Reality
11. I Was Alive

If you like your metalcore with a dash of punk and experimentation, then chances are you're a BEARTOOTH fan. Formed in the early 2010s by former ATTACK ATTACK! vocalist Caleb Shomo, BEARTOOTH's strength is partly in the heavy experimentation they bring to their music. From 2014's "Disgusting" to this year's "The Surface", that love for trying new things hasn't changed. Now, Shomo, guitarists Zach Huston and Will Deely, bass player Oshie Bichar and drummer Connor Denis are pushing the limits of metalcore with "The Surface".

Shomo has always been very open with fans about his life and struggles, and that's always come out in BEARTOOTH's music. "The Surface" is no exception. While BEARTOOTH's themes have often been dark and brooding, this time around, Shomo writes about the human experience in a more uplifting way, which is a refreshing change.

Let's first address the Longhorn in the room. BEARTOOTH team with country act HARDY on this release: Yes, country. For the single "The Better Me", BEARTOOTH got together with him (FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE songwriter) to produce this rock anthem. Vocally, this song has a country twang, but musically, it's pretty much straight-ahead hard rock. The combination works well, although something about twangy vocals over hard rock, almost metal, guitars is a bit awkward. Props to the band for, once again, branching out and trying something new.

"Riptide", another single, is a much more traditional BEARTOOTH release. Here, they employ a super catchy, melodic chorus with Shomo singing about letting go of negativity and depression and moving forward mentally in life. The song also features a wicked guitar lick and breakdown around the one-minute mark.

Elsewhere, "Shineshine!" should please fans who prefer a heavier BEARTOOTH. The song starts with a ripping, screaming passage from Shomo before kicking into rowdy instrumentals. "My New Reality" is much more melodic, with beautiful, swelling guitars that embrace Shomo's thick vocals. More highlights on the release come from "Might Love Myself" and the album's closing track, "I Was Alive", both of which have an anthemic, late-1990s rock quality, again offering something new from BEARTOOTH.

BEARTOOTH really keep the listener on their ears with "The Surface". It's an engaging album that takes some twists and turns. The listener doesn't really know what to expect from song to song, which makes for a dynamic listen. What's more, mixing more traditional metalcore, for which BEARTOOTH are known, with dashes of country and straight-ahead rock make for a great blend, making "The Surface" a mesmerizing listen.

Author: Anne Erickson
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