If one were to provide background music to the rigorous, no-win Starfleet academy training exercise from the world of Star Trek, the first track “Kobayashi Maru” would be the soundtrack. A ripping banger from the start seeping with influences of hardcore, the leading track pummels you with a full-on assault of catchy beats before tearing into the rest of the song. I’m quite confident that even Captain James Tiberius Kirk could single-handedly annihilate a fleet of Romulans with his bare hands just by listening to this track. That’s no hyperbole–this is one hell of an opener. And yes, the Star Trek reference applies in this case.
Before I continue, I must admit that I had not heard of the djent-inspired metalcore outfit from Gothenburg, Sweden before giving this latest record a listen. Hailing from the mecca of melodic death metal, they seemed to have crafted a style that bucks the trend of Dark Tranquility and In Flames copycats spewing from Gothenburg.
Tracks like “Glitter” and “WASH” slow down the pace a little bit, utilizing heavy riffs and a more drawn out style to keep listeners on their toes. Other tracks such as “Busy Signals Sing the Woes,” “Down the Rabbit Hole,” and “Hillary’s Step,” follow a similar formula to the opening track, leading with a fierce introduction that blends blistering blast beats with furious riffage. There’s an abundance of heaviness on this album, whether it’s djent-styled hardcore or groovy deathcore, which is apparent on tracks like “Glitch” and “Social Star.” “Social Star” in particular is a highlight on the album as it provides an indulgent number of breakdowns and blast beats that even the most hardcore-averse metalhead would appreciate.
The band’s diversity is exhibited on more mellow tracks like “Joy,” and “Happy,” where it’s less of a straight-up head ripper. The math-like complexity is perfectly intertwined with vocal harmonies and intense breakdowns. Grayscale Season does an excellent job keeping you engaged throughout the album by spicing it up with the varying styles. The clean vocals do provide a rather refreshing twist to the music, showcasing the impressive range of lead vocalist Eddie Lejhagen.
Another shining example of Everything Hurts having a more diverse sound than expected can be found on the penultimate track “Invite Me In.” The song is mostly an acoustic track and once again gives Eddie Lejhagen a chance to showcase his clean vocals. A moderately melancholy track, the visceral pain described in the lyrics is quite vivid and provides a much-needed juxtaposition to the heavy bangers on the album. As soon as the song ends, the final track kicks off with a rather groovy introduction. Titled “Ritalin Twins,” the finale is straight-up hardcore in its purest form.
The beauty of doing album reviews is discovering new bands and uncovering gems. While this is Grayscale Season’s second full-length release, Everything Hurts is an excellent record that will keep you listening from start to finish. The album does get a little repetitive at times, which is expected with an album clocking in at 55 minutes spread out over 14 songs. However, that’s not an indictment on the music at all. The proficient musicianship, addictive melodies, and hellacious beats make this a fantastic record and a must-listen for all metalheads.
Written by Jonathan Berthold
*edited by Mike Milito