There’s a sense of smugness that comes with saying this but, the hardcore scene has been in rude health in the past few years. Such rude health in fact, that it gets more difficult by the day for new bands under today’s vast hardcore umbrella to hope to make themselves heard. Lucky then, for Campus, that they occupy a genre where your hard work and devotion are almost valued far beyond what your music can offer. Despite being relative unknowns, Campus have exposed themselves in a way that so many of their peers would crawl through broken glass for, touring with such high profile acts as Cancer Bats, Bring Me The Horizon and A Day To Remember and also hitting stages at Groezrock, Pukkelpop, and our very own Hevy Music Fest. Not bad for a band in such a stage of infancy. But can their luck in the live arena be matched by their recorded output?
Empathy reveals this question to be a tricky one to answer. Campus boast all the attributes that have brought so many of their contemporaries success, and even manage to have a touch more depth to their music with the occasional odd time signature, and yet, the prevailing impression you get from Empathy is that you’ve heard all this before. The screamed-verse-sung-chorus motif is followed just as staunchly as practically any of the bands you could pick out at random from their scene, while their choice of chord progressions, breakdowns and use of dissonance are utilised ad nauseum in this day and age. That’s not to say what’s on show here is bad, mind you. There is a suitable amount of fury to be found on the likes of ‘Young Bastard’, which instantly calls to mind early Alexisonfire, and the more modern hardcore stylings of ‘Lone Wolf’, and despite the clean choruses, lead vocalist Martijn Leenaerts at least sings with a respectable level of grit and power in his voice. It’s just…the EP is in itself a cliché. The band, though highly skilled and gloriously tight, sound more like a band following a textbook than one ready to tear your face off with undiluted hardcore, and with the way the songs are structured, there’s not much you can do to differentiate Campus from While She Sleeps, or virtually any of the modern crop the media have been championing for that matter.
Nevertheless, Empathy does serve a purpose as a whole, and given the direction that hardcore is heading in 2013, it will likely bring them much further success. And since all you can ask of a band regardless of their style is that they work their arses off, you can bet your last quid that Campus will be doing more of the same this year. Watch this space.
Empathy is out now via Small Town Records
2. Lone Wolf
3. Down Time
4. Young Bastard
Martijn Leenaerts – Vocals
Tijs Mondelaers – Guitar
Fabrice Parent – Guitar
Tuur Geeraerts – Bass
Josse Wijckmans – Drums