Album Review: Counterparts – A Eulogy For Those Still Here

Album Review: Counterparts - A Eulogy For Those Still Here
Reviewed by Dan Barnes

I was fortunate enough to catch two of Counterparts’ June festival appearances – one at Slam Dunk North and the other at the Outbreak Warm-Up party, both of which included previews of Bound to the Burn and Unwavering Vow – so my appetite was whetted for the release of this, their seventh album. Those warm summer days seemed an eon away from the October release date of A Eulogy for Those Still Here, but patience has been rewarded and Counterparts new record has finally arrived.

With this new collection, the Canadians seem to have taken a darker, more mature approach to their creative process and the promises of those early teasers is confirmed immediately in the first-track-proper, Whispers of Your Death. Inspired by a poorly pet, vocalist Brandon Murphy wastes no time in delivering a raw, guttural vocal of pre-emptive grief, accompanied by crushing drums and twisting, melodic guitar.

Those pre-album singles lay out a manifesto for the album, with Bound to The Burn combining chucky, chugging riffs with wistful notes and a Killswitch Engage interlude, and Unwavering Vow adding some trippy moments and a clean(er) vocal line.

This duality is foreshadowed by the ambient opening minute of 07/26/2020 – in the interest of journalistic curiosity, I Googled this date and found it to be National Coffee Milk Shake Day, National Aunt and Uncle Day and National Chili Dog Day – none of which seems to tie in with the chilled-out vibe of the piece. Elsewhere, however, the more soulful and introspective comes to the forefront on the gentle, but no less emotionally wrought, Skin Beneath a Scar or in the early moments of Soul II.

Album Review: Counterparts - A Eulogy For Those Still Here

Don’t be fooled into thinking Counterparts have gone all-Emo for album number seven, or have reached the age when angry adolescence has passed them by; oh no, for A Eulogy for Those Still Here is packed with the kind of pissed-off attitude only reached when the age-clock ticks over a certain number. Think you’re annoyed now, kids? Just wait and see!

Sandwiching Skin Beneath a Scar is the title track which sees Brandon and newly-returned guitarist Alex Re, almost duetting their raw and clean vocal sounds over a pumping low end like the interior monologue of a troubled soul. Sworn to Silence hits with an unrelenting, driving beat that drops into a huge breakdown. What Mirrors Might Reflect does much the same, while introducing an undeniably hook-filled chorus.

As the album speeds to its close, Counterparts pop up with Flesh to Fill Your Wounds, a pleasantly titled, no-compromise hardcore-metalcore hybrid that manages to flail skin while at the same time enchant you with its massive guitar and catchy riff. This leaves just A Mass Grave of Saint to round things off; expanding on the trippy nature of some of the album’s elements, it is the most widescreen track here, opening the more internalised aspects of A Eulogy… out into stirring and epic proportions and giving a fitting close to Counterparts’ most accomplished album yet.

As I sit writing this review the rains have come in and don’t look like stopping anytime soon, meaning the memories of those sunny June days in Leeds and Manchester are consigned to history. Which just beggars the question: Was the album worth the wait? Hell yeah, it was!

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