Disease – Beartooth (Review)
Mental illness is a topic that can never have enough coverage in modern media. It’s destructive and beautiful nature is displayed poetically in Beartooth’s 2018 release ‘Disease.’ The record shares frontman Caleb Shomo’s personal daily battle with mental health with its combination of brutal metal influence and hard hitting chorus’.
Caleb Shomo described the new Beartooth record as ‘music for survival’ which is a perfect reflection of this record. Although Disease combines the energy of metal, hardcore, and pop-punk, the overall tone of this record is one of reflection and sadness. The lyrical theme of mental health issues throughout the record adds a depth to each song that some Beartooth songs missed previously. ‘Disease’ follows up on the tone of 2016s ‘Aggressive’ and improves it infinitely. This record is truly angry and truly beautiful.
The opening song on the album ‘Greatness or Death’ sets the tone for the record perfectly. The acoustic guitar intro bursts into the biggest sounding version Beartooth we have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. This song is truly intense and left me shaking in my desk chair. ‘Greatness or Death’ displays a combination of rough guitar tones, massive drums and double tracked vocals which don’t stop screaming. The chorus hits hard, as a melodic masterpiece before crashing straight back into the verse. It is almost impossible to sit still listening to this song.
The title track ‘Disease’ was the first song written for the record and similarly to the previous track allows insight into the themes of the record. In Disease’s chorus Shomo’s vocals really cut through the mix and display an ability to combine raw emotion and poetic melody. The bass tone on ‘Disease’ adds a thickness to this song which is crucial to its success. A must listen song of the album. Some of the verse vocal melodies don’t quite land although the double tracked vocals add a needed depth to sometimes boring verse vocals.
My personal highlights of this album are the track ‘Manipulation’ and the incredible artwork that comes with the record. ‘Manipulation’ quickly became my favourite Beartooth song and combined all the best elements of Beartooth in a celebration of their musical growth. The albums artwork is truly incredible, and the rustic style used on the artwork is a perfect reflection of the albums overall sound.
The second half of ‘Disease’ seems to have a more prominent pop-punk inspiration through its larger focus on catchy vocals and a more hopeful sound, although the hope it creates through its use of energetic punk influence still permeates the overall theme of the darkness of mental illness. ‘Believe’ offers a more radio friendly side of Beartooth which we don’t see often which personally I didn’t appreciate. The song seems to pander to an audience that it didn’t need too and leaves me wanting more of what I heard on the first half of the album. On the other hand, ‘Infection’ redeems the gap that ‘Believe’ left by combines the brutal and melodic elements of Beartooth much more effectively.
Overall this album is a relatably brutal reflection of mental illness and the daily stuggle it can cause. ‘Disease’ is equally an escape and an expression of everything that happens inside Caleb Shomo’s mind. Although not flawless ‘Disease’ is potentially the best Beartooth record to date and will definitely find it’s place on my top albums of 2018 list.
Listen to ‘Disease’ here: https://open.spotify.com/album/1EFr8cW4waL1ASHS1RdmhF?si=Enb7UlpGS6yNxl0XkowzYA
If you’re struggling with mental health and feel like you have nowhere to go, reach out. Someone’s always there to listen.