The rock band’s album acts as a rousing message of empowerment for those in pain.

Vocalist Ash Costello of the alternative metal band New Years Day— the band also includes lead guitarist Nikki Misery, rhythm guitarist Jeremy Valentyne,  bassist Brandon Wolfe, and drummer Tommy Rockoff —declares that she is determined to not let others suck the life out of them or change who they are at their core on the opening track, ‘Vampyre”,  of their new album Half Black Heart,  a message to narcissists and soul-suckers alike. For the band’s new record, Costello and the other members leaned on empowerment serving as a vehicle for uplifting messages and the power of reinventing themselves.  Going back to the original sound that made fans gravitate to the band in their early days,  the outfit’s new record sees them conquer personal and universal fears using unstoppable determination and strength and witness the culmination of their hard work.  Released on March 1st via Century Media Records, the record is the result of years of writing, with the production of the album starting in 2020 and seeing the band evolve sonically. Heavy riffs, drama, emotion, and songwriting that packs punch with lyrics such as “I hope you choke’ on the song ‘Vampyre.” Inspired by Costello’s feelings of loss and uncertainty during the pandemic, it sees the singer embracing her darker side, instead of shunning it, singing I love the demons that talk in my brain on the lustral track “Burn It All Down” and serves as a reminder that she can courageously face tumult. Refusing to drown in feelings of uncertainty and loss, Costello uses music as her life vest, taking her power back in the form of writing lyrics that see her grow and learn from her past. Marking the band’s fifth album, the band sharpens their headbang-ready sound and aggressive lyricism by openly discussing self-esteem issues, empowerment,  love, and self-awareness. Realizing that we all are multifaceted, Costello takes on those who expect perfection by brazenly embracing her flaws and pushing past doubt. On Half Black Heart,  Costello, and company tackle a bevy of subjects: anxiety, uncertainty, shame, and duality in many facets of personal and professional life. Through raw lyrics that speak to the fearlessness that is within all of us,  the band gathers the strength to preserve and face their true selves throughout 12 tracks. The title track shows the group embracing their nature of occupying two worlds: sporting an aesthetic that is half black and half red, making music that is half metal and half fun, and being equal parts inspirational and aggressive, viewing it as a strength instead of something to hide from the world. On the record, burgeoning assertiveness and the ability to confront issues come to fruition, making way for the sound and vision of the record to deliver a theatrical, honest, and gothic record that speaks to all kinds of fans.  Over a decade into their musical career, the five-piece band is more comfortable in their skin than ever, asserting their presence and embracing their journey in totality.

Formed in 2005, the Anaheim, California alternative rock outfit built a presence on the social media MySpace, leading to the release of their self-titled EP in 2006 and their debut album  My Dear in 2007. The band then released its second album Victim to Villian in 2013 followed by 2013’s Malevolence and 2002’s Unbreakable. Acting as a follow-up to the Unbreakable, Half Black Heart sees the band finding empowerment after experiencing pain. With a five-year gap between album releases, Costello and the band take listeners through the journey of finding their voice and the courage to face their demons, seeing themselves as more than what keeps them awake at night. The newest record Half Black Heart was announced in late 2023,  one that sees the band entering an era of honing in on their sound, never sticking to a script, and finding their voice.

Discussing confronting malignant narcissism, the opening track “Vampyre” sets the mood for the start of the record while the title track “Half Black Heart” gets at the heart of the record:  embracing the beauty of who you are no matter how people view you and pushing back at those who try to define you, illustrated by the inspiring lyric “Who are you to tell me who to be / When you can’t see all of me” in the bridge.  Peppered with screams, heavy riffs,  dark instrumentals, and powerful lyrics about self-acceptance and confronting adversaries, the song speaks to those who struggle with self-acceptance and gives them a place to belong.  At its core, Half Black Heart is a powerful collection that sees unrestrained fury collide with arena-ready glamour, confrontational DIY passion, and melodic hooks. Drama and emotion define the record, one that sees New Year’s Day going back to its roots while injecting aggressiveness into its sound. The upbeat “Hurts Like Hell” briefly breaks away from the heavy emotion that permeates the rest of the record, revolving around the addictive nature of a chaotic relationship.   The vulnerable track “Secrets” sees the album cross over into emotional territory, with Costello opening up about the burden of carrying the secrets of others. Wanting to be honest with herself, she bravely faces the anguish and shame that she can no longer ignore and boldly reclaims her time. This theme of fearlessness and rebellion against inner scrutiny and the judgment of others is a thread throughout the record, one that mirrors the band’s journey through the industry and the vocalist’s journey as a female singer with a prominent social media presence.

Throughout their discography, New Year’s Day has always walked the line between darkness and light; this duality comes to fruition on Half Black Heart, an unrepentant and unashamed album championing discovery, from the darkest secrets to one’s inner strength. Tunes such as “Burn It All Down”— a homage to the rebellious spirit of Harley Quinn— and “Bulletproof” touch on newfound empowerment while showcasing Costello’s vocal range, her haunting vocals illustrating anger, strength, and inspiration simultaneously.  Throughout the record,  listeners are on a rollercoaster ride  Previously released singles ‘Hurts Like Hell” and “Secrets” taps into the band’s ability to pen cathartic and memorable lyrics that one would want to use as affirmation. Dedicated to their die-hard fanbase, the album sees Costello and the rest of the band embracing their unique identity, pushing fans to do the same in their own lives. The single “I Still Believe” drives this message home, seeing Costello singing a heartfelt anthem dedicated to anyone in need of a reminder that with unwavering self-belief, anything is possible.  “So Sick” focuses on a more positive aspect of love:  being deeply in love with a partner, a subject that is lighter fare compared to the rest of the record.  The closer “Creature of Habit is a departure from the band’s sound, showing the band’s evolution and wrapping up the album on a fun note.

Ultimately, Half Black Heart is New Years Day’s declaration of their staying power within their industry and their ability to craft a cathartic record that withstands the test of time. Speaking to those who are discontent, disempowered, and looking for acceptance, the band envelops its listeners in songs that assist those struggling with self-esteem and make them feel understood.  With something for everyone, Half Black Heart is the band’s best work yet, one that sees them empowered after experiencing pain and uncertainty. Suitable for screaming at the top of one lung’s in a bedroom during a solo listening session or sweating at a loud rock show, the tracks on this album are honest, fun, and addicitve. Unapologetically themselves, New Years Day is stronger than ever, boldly declaring that they will remain fearless despite the odds stacked against them.