Honesty and believability are key when making truly brilliant music. Ultimately, if something doesn't have these, it can still be decent, but it can't get under your skin in the way that it could if it did.
Bands like Lower Than Atlantis, The Wonder Years and Letlive, to name just a few, have made their names on this level of authenticity over the past few years. You truly believe what Mike Duce, Dan Campbell and Jason Butler are saying as you listen to them. Now another band and another person can be added to that list in the form of Caleb Shomo and his new venture Beartooth. Slowly appearing like a waking wild animal last summer with the release of the debut Sick EP, Shomo, after leaving Attack! Attack!, took all the insecurities and issues from leaving his old band and growing up in the spotlight (having been on the touring circuit since he was 15) down into his basement to create the songs that would form Beartooth. The results are some of the most visceral, emotional and deeply-cut songs you're going to hear all year, Shomo literally pulling every last demon out of his soul.
The formidable balance between screams and melody remind of Reuben set to muscular and violent Slipknot-esque riffage and huge drops that echo golden era Underoath. Mosh calls fly all over the place while breakdowns detonate beneath them. Lyrically though is where the album hits the hardest, each song feeling like Shomo challenging a new issue in his own mind, a whole new fight. Opener, the nu-metal tinged The Lines, begs those around him to see through the way that his anxieties make him act, Body Bag deals with deeply unsettling trust issues, the confusion and panic sparked by eating and sleep disorders form Ignorance Is Bliss, and Relapsing gives an insight into exactly what it's like to have to deal with these emotional problems on a daily basis. Shomo removes any form of stigma, this is how it is, and he should be applauded for doing so. Wider issues are also tackled such as child abuse on the Billy Talent-esque Beaten In Lips and the problem of cultural pressures upon the individual on Keep Your American Dream, it's like reading a blood-soaked diary, it's deeply unsettling and deeply exhilarating at the same time.
Perhaps the jewels in the album's crown though are the two songs Shomo recorded with uber-producer John Feldmann. While some of Feldmann's work can be arguably mired by overblown multi-instrumental tendencies, here his more polished sense of melody acts as backbone to Shomo's ideas and abrasion and it works perfectly. In Between brings a shining positivity to the album with its colossal chorus and outward expression to remember you never have to go through these problems alone, while the more autobiographical One More sums up the message of the album, "give me one more song to free my head...to be content in this life unknown", and features one of the biggest 'woah-oh' sections you're going to hear in 2014.
The flip-side to these songs though is the album's final track Sick & Disgusting which is the epitome of all this honesty and emotion and embodies a genuinely tough and shocking listen, something that is harder to do as time goes on. Recalling the likes of Korn's Daddy, Slipknot's Scissors or Bring Me The Horizon's Suicide Season the track is Caleb letting it all out in the vocal booth over the top of a progressively haunting riff. Screaming how he only "wants to feel loved" and about the times that he "cried every single night", to the point where all we're left with is the harrowing sound of a broken and emotionally exhausted fellow human-being. Not an easy listen but an undeniably essential one.
Shomo and Beartooth have created something here that not only should make wave upon wave in the scene as soon as they start lighting fire to the Warped Tour this summer but also something that stands up tall in its integrity.
Brace yourselves and press play.