First and foremost, I want to apologize for my tardiness getting this review out. Haste the Day was one of the most influential bands in my life. I would largely credit Haste the Day with getting me into any sort of heavy music.
The metalcore legends have accomplished what few could in that with all the iterations of the band, they made memorable albums. While a lot of people want to contest which Haste the Day lineup is the best representation of the group, I love each and every member and what they brought to the table with each release.
These reasons are why I wanted to take my time with this review because when I first listened to the album, I wasn’t a huge fan. I don’t really know what I expected with this album, but I knew it had to be amazing.
Listening through the first time, the album seemed to lack cohesion. Every track felt a bit different and didn’t play very well into the next. On top of that, the mixing kind of irked me. While Jimmy Ryan and Stephen Keech both have very distinct vocals, but the album felt a little bass heavy, causing the vocals to bleed a bit together.
While I never really got over the mixing of the album being a bit off to my liking, what I soon did realize is that Coward simply doesn’t need cohesion to act as the mammoth of an album it is. In fact, Coward, in my opinion, acts shamelessly as a greatest hits album for Haste the Day.
The album has everything fans of these metalcore merchants know, love, and expect with each album. Powerfully growled lead vocals, shredding guitars, earth-shattering breakdowns, and anthemic choruses are all present and on every single song.
“Begin” kicks off right where Attack of the Wolf King left off. Stephen Keech takes the vocal helm as he howls, “You are everything” in front of a solid wall of atmospheric metalcore goodness. The guitars swell and flow against the backdrop of chunky rhythm and choppy drum beats to make the listener truly feel as though they’re in for something special.
Jimmy Ryan and Brennan Chaulk make their return with “Take”. The track feels as though it could be a cut off of Burning Bridges By with its raw thrash infused sound and astoundingly huge chorus. Fans of the band will be chanting “We know who you are” in their cars for months to come right before circle headbanging their way into a neck brace with the groovy final riff.
The title track is a personal favorite of mine on the record and is the first of what I believe to be the most solid trifecta of tracks on the record. The cut begins much like something off of AotWK with beefy chugging in the foreground and subtle leads working their magic behind the scenes. Musically the boys in Haste bring everything to the table, from blast beat sections to haunting reverb sections.
Stephen Keech absolutely obliterates this track with both stellar lyrics and a killer vocal performance. The listener can feel passion dripping from his voice as he delivers the verse, “I’ve sung a coward’s song / When I found it hard to bend my knees / But I’ve heard Your quiet call / I’ve heard You whispering to me”.
“Lost” follows much in the same suit musically as the title track but hearkens back to Pressure the Hinges days with Keech and Chaulk trading off clean and rough vocals during one of the strongest choruses on the album. While I was a huge fan of Attack of the Wolf King, choruses such as this will make listeners wonder how the band functioned without Chaulk for a record.
“Reconcile” is a bit of an oddball track as it feels mostly like an instrumental track for the majority of it’s duration before swelling into one of the most massive tracks Haste the Day has recorded. Starting off with light and airy guitar accompanied by a simple, yet powerful drumbeat the song progresses into power chords and ethereal guitar leads. Gang chanting and quickly accompanies the duel vocals of Keech and Chaulk to create a goosebump inducing melody.
The tracks “Fall” and “Accept” feel as though they could have made their way onto When Everything Falls. Both tracks hit incredibly heavy and blisteringly fast with monstrous chorus sections; the exact recipe that cemented Haste the Day into the hearts of fans.
“Gnaw” was the first track to really stand out to me upon first listen of Coward and serves as an excellent close to a record that encompasses so much greatness. The closer starts out fast and stays that way. Ryan and Keech switch off verses amid the frenzy of pummeling drums and furious guitar licks. I believe this song is perhaps the best representation of each iteration of Haste the Day and it works perfectly like a well oiled machine. The final break down with Keech and Ryan howling, “I feel it gnawing from the inside / Over and over again” is one that I personally could listen to forever.
Overall: Coward is a record made by the fans, for the fans. While at first, I was not hugely keen on the album, I believe that was just because it did not fit perfectly into what I wanted from the largely anticipated record. With multiple listens, however, I soon discovered this album plays out best as a greatest hits album, with all the best parts of Haste the Day placed within. The band made this album with all fans in mind, trying to craft an album that would appeal to the majority of their fans. While the strategy may disrupt some of the continuity from track to track, it proves for you great trip down memory lane.
RIYL: Still Remains | Oh, Sleeper | Inhale Exhale