Guilt Trip – Severance
Release Date: 22/09/2023
Running Time: 33:00
Review by Rory Bentley
No Malevolence album this year? No problem! The Yorkshire bruisers have been kind enough to release the debut album from Manchester ass-kickers Guilt Trip on their own MLVLTD label, so nobody has to go without bouncy Metallic Hardcore made by angry Northerners this year – rejoice! Fortunately, rather than being mere clones of their Crowbar-worshipping amigos, the band have enough of their own spin on things to dispel any notions of them being also-rans. In fact, “Severance” is pretty fucking good indeed!
First things first, Hardcore bands please watch and learn – not every album needs to open with a moody clean intro! We know you’re gonna smash us in the face, that’s why we decided to put a Hardcore album on, plus we’ve all heared ‘Battery’. ‘Fallen At My Feet’ on the other hand decides the best course of action is to cram as many pick scrapes, harmonics and monstrous chugs into just over a minute as possible, like if your assailant did an overture before the full mugging took place. It transitions fantastically into the irresistible ‘Summoned By Pain’, a track that melds Testament licks onto the end of thugged-out Madball riffs and caps it off with the kind of beatdown that medical tent staff at festivals across the globe wince at in anticipation of a long shift.
One aspect that the band is great at throughout the record is an almost comedic proclivity for guitar harmonics whether pinched or otherwise. Killswitch Engage, Zack Wylde and Gojira would all look at the squealing and pinging on the likes of ‘Sweet Dreams’, ‘Tearing Your Life Away’ and ‘Broken Wings’ and wonder if they didn’t go big enough on their wee-woo game. It could get overly gimmicky were it not used to bolster some cast-iron monster riffs which do the heavy lifting both figuratively and most definitely sonically.
Another standout is the impressive performance by lead singer Jay Valentine. His harsh vocals are bang on the money, adopting a full-throated yell instead of an uber-distorted rasp and employing it to great rhythmic effect such as on the head-nodding bounce of the title track, coming across like early Chino Moreno minus the sexy-time vocals. His clean singing immediately impressed me as well for a number of reasons. Not only does he show nuance and a dash of warm soulfulness on closing dark ballad ‘Dusk’, but he doesn’t sound like a fucking American! Not that there’s anything wrong with being American per se, but if you’re from the UK why not sing in your own authentic voice rather than affecting a Chester Benington impression like every fucker else? Valentine’s Manchester burr feels way more legit tackling the more personal lyrics than any cut and paste Metalcore singer you’d care to name, and it’s little things like this that are so important when it comes to standing out on a sea of Metalcore bands.
Hats off must also go to the production team for delivering a punchy, sharp sound that captures the subtle nuances of Tom Aimson’s monstrous performance behind the kit on the likes of ‘The Gates’ where he swings harder than Thor’s hammer during a Rat Pack concert. Slick but not sterile is the order of the day here, allowing the band to sound appealing enough to hook in While She Sleeps fans but mean enough to satisfy tatooed angry meat men like me.
Of course, as with nearly any debut there is room for growth, and although the band put their own spin on the Metallic Hardcore sound, I do hope they spread their wings a little further with songs like the hulking industrial assault on ‘Hell Will Replace The Rain’, but for now the selection of pure ass-beaters that make up the bulk of the album are filled with enough vim and vigour to more than satisfy. As debut albums go there will be very few that are as fully-formed and realised as “Severance” and there’s enough glimmers of innovation to put a fair few of the old guard to shame.
01. Fallen At My Feet
02. Surrounded By Pain
03. Eyes Wide Shut
04. Sweet Dreams (Ft. Florent Salfati)
05. Reaching Paradise
06. Tearing Your Life Away
07. Broken Wings
08. The Gates
10. Hell Will Replace the Rain
Jay Valentine – vocals
Tom Aimson – drums
Jak Maden – guitars
Sam Baker – guitars
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