2017 is going to be the year. I’m serious guys. 2017 will be the year that I get swole. I’ve been eating better, trying to get more sleep, be less stressed, and going to the gym of course. And what happens when I go to the gym? Lots of heavy music will inevitably be blasted to loud out of my earbuds to the extent that I frequently get low-key-side-eye-glances from the 40 year old ladies on the treadmill beside me. Since I’ve played out a decent amount of my heavy releases from 2016, “State of Mind” by Those Who Fear comes at a perfect time.
Starting off with mosh pit inducing into, aptly titled after the album, State of Mind clocks in at around 2:30, doing little more than setting the stage for what the listener should expect over the next half hour. Relentless chugging and bullet shells rain down upon upon the listener while vocalist John Healy growls, “This is my state of mind!” before going into lead single, Driven.
Honestly the single is one of my favorite tracks the album has to offer. Not only because of its message of not giving in, no matter the circumstances – which has been helpful in my year of transformation, but also the fact that Garrett Russell of Silent Planet fame drops a stellar verse. Russell howls, “Push past the doldrums of apathy / Hold fast when everything falls apart” before one of the best breakdowns on the album as Healy bellows “Give up or get up.”
Ten Years finds Those Who Fear shedding the perception they can do nothing but play open chugs as they incorporate intricate and interesting lead guitars throughout the track. Not only does this add a sense of melody and “prettiness” to such a gritty album, but it also freshens things up and helps the track stand on its own.
Similar to Ten Years the track Lost incorporates melody again to freshen the mix. Not only do guitar leads drenched in reverb permeate the thick atmosphere of hardcore flavoring, but sung / yelled vocals accompany the screams creating a variety and different aspect not found in prior Those Who Fear material. Better yet, the group pull it off without sounding like a band desperate for rock radio attention.
Heretic keeps the wheels turning with tons of old school hardcore flair. Starting off with blazing guitar riffs and some of the most impressive drum beats on the album, this barnburner transitions into Tommy Green’s guest spot. Green has the swagger and power akin to classic hip hop artists, making this team up seem all the more sweet. The final breakdown features some of the most pit inducing call out lyrics in history as Green and Healy honestly proclaim, “It’s hard not to hate when there’s people like you!”
With all the crushing breakdowns and breakneck riffing, the only downside on the album comes in the lack of innovation found within the album. There are chunks of songs that can tend to run together and breakdowns that can tend to sound familiar. However, I would consider this album to be a mood piece, best suited for getting psyched rather than something to be critically rated.
With the current year being the one I get ripped, what better way to start than with heavyweight champions of hardcore, Those Who Fear releasing a new album? The Pittsburgh, PA wrecking crew’s newest offering, State of Mind, is 31 minutes and 10 tracks of unfiltered and unapologetic beatdown jams. So what are you weighting (eh? eh?) for? Grab your gym shorts, lifting gloves and your mp3 player loaded with State of Mind and let’s get pumped.