UK heavy metal quintet Heart of a Coward have just released their sophomore album, ‘Severance’, a year after their debut ‘Hope and Hindrance’ crashed into existence. Formed in 2007; after several line-up changes they are now a solid and refined unit lead by ex-Sylosis frontman Jamie Graham. Taking the ferocity and unbridled chaos of their live performances and channeling it in the studio is the real challenge for Heart of a Coward. Severance is a more focused release and was born of a coherent blend of HOAC’s best qualities. The breakdown is still the dominating Monarch, but the development of arrangements and soundscapes throughout serve to make Severance an engaging album of Groovecore brutality.
‘Monstro’ kicks off the album with its down-tuned staccato sludgery offset with a minimalist lead line. Graham’s punishing vocal delivery is a real force and serves to drive the message deep into the conscience. ‘Prey’ chugs alongto the breakdown of “there is no chance to redeem ourselves”. Graham’s clean vocal intones “we have become the new breed of slave” and is a haunting reminder of the plight of modern society. Justin Hill from Sikth lends his distinctive talent to “Distance”, a song that invokes images of Deftones having it out with Meshuggah while Tool referees the contest as the massive breakdown near the close delivers the knockout blow. Says Jamie regarding Hill’s contribution: “Those who know SIKTH will share my excitement for that!! Also guesting on the record is another CM label mate, our good friend Scott Kennedy of Bleed From Within, who wrote a killer part for a song called ‘Psychophant’.” The first taste of Severance that was offered to the public was ‘Nauseam’. A synth-like guitar intro overlays the pulverising riff foundation on a track that adds a fresh dynamic to the HOAC sound. The contrast between the intensely frenetic ‘Deadweight’ and the more languorous ‘Eclipsed’ is welcomingly unsettling. The towering beast that is ‘Psychophant’ is a highlight on Severance. Featuring a structure that gallops incessantly, it will most certainly implore many a listener to flail arms indiscriminately in the pit. The bass-driven ‘Mirrors’ with its intricate guitar meanderings around the clean chorus is immense.Closing with the duo of ‘Desensintise’ and the title track ‘Severance’, Heart of a Coward close the album on a high yet despondent note and the lyric “looking back there’s no God left in my mind” is left ringing in the ears.
Heart of a Coward have delivered a strong downtuned collection of riffage and aural brutality that does rely less on the breakdown than its predecessor. These songs will excel in the live environment, which at the end of the day is where HOAC will make ends meet. Severance is an album that while aggressive and manipulative, the increased variance and complexity has cemented that Heart of a Coward is a band that is progressing in the right direction.
Jamie Graham – (Vocals
Carl Ayers – Guitars
Steve Haycock – Guitars
Vishal “V” Khetia – Bass
Christopher “Noddy” Mansbridge – Drums