Very much like hair metal, post-grunge and nu-metal before it, metalcore is an underwhelming genre. It’s nothing particularly bad; it’s just oversaturated. Very few bands have been able to move beyond those screaming vocals and grinding riffs; for every Killswitch Engage or Underoath we see, we see hundreds of slapped-together outfits plagued by repetition and uninvention. The bands keep churning, but here comes Her Dying Regret, a metalcore band from Reading, United Kingdom with an urge to continue the genre’s trail of circle pits and fists in the air. The band’s newest record, Legacy, is a thoroughly disappointing effort not in its overall quality, but in the fact that every pristine moment of wonderful evolutionary potential is buried under the same metalcore tropes we’ve seen for the last 10+ years.
The fundamentals of the love-it-or-hate-it genre of metalcore are clear as day on Her Dying Regret’s newest record. You have your rough, screaming vocals. You have your crunchy guitar riffs. You have your heavy, pounding rhythm department. It’s all there, checked off the bulleted list of genre mainstays. For what Her Dying Regret does, it does without much falter. None of the members do their job particularly poorly. Legacy is an intense record, one that feels tuned for getting a crowd going in a filthy dive in your local town. It’s not epic, nor is it bombastic, but it’s aggressive.
Metalcore’s greatest weapon has always been the mix of screaming and clean vocals, and while you do see some shockingly refined examples of that on Legacy, Her Dying Regret still seems too focused on the brutality of rough vocals, at least during the first half of the album. The brief moments of cleanly vocalized melody like in the surprisingly majestic chorus of “The Shallow” clear the air of the heavier growls that seem to permeate the first two full tracks. The title track possesses some wild tempo changes, great changes in rhythms and some awesome exchanges between screaming and clean vocals. The guitar lines are also very toned and clear, harkening back to the works of prog metal band Between the Buried and Me. The very surprising key of the closer “The Filthy Truth” is uplifting, despite having the same growls and grunts heard throughout the entire album, closing out with a battlecry of sorts before the album’s end.
But Her Dying Regret doesn’t expand upon the amazing dynamics and experimentation of “Legacy” and “The Filthy Truth,” still feeling content with heaviness over creativity. The musicianship is definitely there, but it’s static, trapped in an obnoxiously settled loop that never branches out to new ideas. The rhythms are thunderous (especially when the double bass pedals make their appearances) and the chugging guitars confidently bring on the weight and the grind. However, Legacy is not an effort made in self-invention. It rarely emits an ambitious vibe and constantly uses the same tropes heard in countless other bands in the genre. The moments of evolution are big enough to be noticed, but not focused enough to bring the album to anything above the established average.
Metalcore is easily one of the hardest genres to stand out in these days. So many bands are appearing and disappearing from the scene that finding a truly original gem is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Her Dying Regret’s Legacy is no gem; it’s a straightforward metalcore record with every bit of personality you’d expect from the genre, for better or for worse. What’s especially crushing is that there are examples of melody, experimentation and captivating distinctiveness throughout the album: “The Shallow” and “The Filthy Truth” are stepping stones to making Her Dying Regret stand out instead of fading into the background cluttered with posters of All That Remains and Blessthefall. If Her Dying Regret want to really distinguish themselves from their countless peers, their next album needs a kicker. This is a band that (unlike many other metalcore bands) has true, untapped potential, but right now, they just haven’t dug deep enough. Legacy is the cap on that well.
Categories: Music review