Counterparts’ third studio full-length finds the Canadian hardcore quintet refining everything they’ve done right in the past, taking their core sound down new stylistic avenues, and writing some of the fiercest, most intricate material of their career. The highly involved guitar work that has set the group apart from genre peers in the past has seen tremendous growth; smooth transitions between devastatingly abrasive riffs and soaring melodies (see “Ghost”) help give the entire record a sense of direction and urgency. The band has no difficulty bringing listeners across numerous peaks and valleys while maintaining cohesion, with their well-known penchant for building huge climaxes on full display. While sticking largely to the technical, melody-driven sensibility that was perhaps most evident on the band’s 2010 split EP, this record is easily the heaviest Counterparts have ever sounded. “Slave” is two minutes of pure, uncompromising savagery, made all the more impactful by Will Putney’s thick production, which occupies an appropriate middle ground between the natural and the pristine. Each instrument comes through nicely, with the vocals placed relatively high in the mix. This allows the attention to detail that permeates the group’s songwriting to come across in full effect, rather than being buried beneath a mass of competing sounds. The vocals sound more aggressive than ever before, giving life to a collection of intensely personal lyrics. While every release Counterparts have put out thus far has been critically acclaimed (deservedly so) and held in extremely high regard by listeners, The Difference Between Hell and Home features some of the band’s most impressive work, and exceeds its predecessors in terms of musical depth and precision. The LP is an early contender for album of the year, and will surely serve as a salient reinforcer of the increasingly widespread notion that Counterparts are among the best bands the hardcore genre has ever seen.
The Difference Between Hell and Home
Review by Francesco Sturino