One of the greatest strengths of Beartooth’s 2014 debut Disgusting was the album’s ability to marry the speed, crunch and roar of metalcore with choruses straight out of the more excitable end of the pop charts. Whilst that alone didn’t necessarily mark the album out as anything new or different, the searing honesty with which it was delivered struck a chord with a generation learning for the first time in history that it’s OK to not be OK, and that talking about mental health won’t get you committed, thrusting Caleb and Co into the limelight quicker than you can say I Have A Problem. 2016’s aptly-titled but overwrought follow-up, Aggressive, dimmed that light ever so slightly, failing to kick up quite as much dust, but the fans stayed loyal and the band kept going, and two years later, right on cue, here we are again with album number three, Disease.
In the fifth series of British sitcom Red Dwarf, there is an episode in which the titular spacecraft is split into two, crew and all, with one taking on all darkest aspects of the original, and the other all the light. Musically, if not lyrically, this is not dissimilar to Beartooth’s trajectory so far. If Disgusting is the original Dwarf, then Aggressive is the demon seed, screaming in the earth and dirt, allowing Disease to stand up tall and look into the sunlight. That’s not to say it’s without it’s crunch (Used and Abused is as brutal as anything the band have put their name to, and the charge of Enemy could take down Juggernaut’s whole extended family, cousins and all), it’s just … nicer, giving the lows more space to rise high. Whereas Aggressive occasionally came across a little forced, like the torment was necessary for the art, Disease instead comes across as cathartic, like the band’s debut, and it’s hard not to warm to the honesty. More urgent than their previous efforts, with whole heaps of Papa Roach thrown on the fire, the album offers little new to the band’s palette, choosing instead to hone their attack into something more refined, further confirming that Beartooth are a millennial force to be reckoned with. Disease can only progress that upward trajectory.
Disease is released on Friday 28 September via Red Bull Records