If metal is your genre of choice, it can be easy to become desensitized to the aggression and pain that this style of music expresses. Currents, a Connecticut based metalcore act, seem set on reminding listeners of the angsty outlet that metal can be. Along with dropping two EPs since their inception back in 2011, the group brought in a new vocalist in 2015 and signed with SharpTone Records to release their debut full-length, The Place I Feel Safest.
Echoing clean guitars swirl alongside symphonic swells on opener “Apnea” before the band kicks in and it becomes clear exactly what sets apart Currents from their metalcore peers: the musicianship of their guitarists. Though I am wary to assign a ‘progressive’ identifier to the band’s sound, the work of Chris Wiseman and Ryan Castaldi is certainly technical – shifting from deft percussive strokes to neoclassical sweeps and dissonant tapping. If Chris Wiseman’s name is familiar, it’s likely because he is also the musical mastermind behind fast-rising symphonic/technical deathcore group Shadow of Intent (you can read our review of that group’s 2017 sophomore record here). As such, this level of technical ability is no surprise.
But what of the other elements of the band’s sound? The percussive base of the group, provided by drummer Jeff Brown and bassist Dee Cronkite, certainly keep up with their guitarists. They are also more than capable of throwing down impressive grooves, such as those on “Withered” and the haunting “Another Life”, which is no easy task. It is vocalist Brian Wille that’s perhaps the most divisive component of the band to me though. He demonstrates his range well on the single “Night Terrors”, cranking out fast-paced, almost nu-metal-esque screams and harrowing hardcore shouts before his singing accompanies a reserved bridge and anthemic outro alongside inspiring lead lines. However, his singing is certainly one of the detractors to this record for me, and not for any particular fault of Wille’s. His voice is delivered well-enough and suited to the genre without fear of being judged as ‘whiny’. Unfortunately, it is overly processed to the point of sterility and lacks any identifiable character to it.
This lack of personality in vocal delivery is contrasted by the starkly personal lyrical content alluded to earlier. This can be seen in tracks near the end of the record; like the call for eco-social justice in “I’m Not Waiting”, and the exploration of the struggle mental illness causes on “Shattered”. These tracks are compelling musically, and Wille is clearly invested in the topics he explores, but he does so with a distracting reliance on clichés that end up pervading most of the record. Though the use of common phrases and idioms may make for easily understandable lyrical messages, it does so by creating shallow, impersonal explorations of important and deeply challenging topics.
As evidenced by the title, The Place I Feel Safest is meant to be an open, vulnerable, and genuine statement that uses intense, well-crafted music to match introspective lyrical topics. However, with somewhat sterile arrangements, overly produced vocals, and lines that do not capture the depth of the subjects of the songs, it was difficult for me to connect emotionally to the music on Currents’ debut full-length.
Notable Tracks: “Apnea”; “Withered”; “Another Life”; “I’m Not Waiting”
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