For those unaware, SharpTone Records is a label founded by Nuclear Blast CEO, Markus Staiger, and Shawn Keith of Sumerian Records and seems to exist for the sole purpose of releasing music by metalcore bands influenced by prog-metal masters, Periphery. There’s no shortage of seven-string bruisers on their roster and across the globe, and Connecticut’s Currents know they perform their art in a crowded field. That’s probably why they embrace the low-end Meshuggah sound and infuse their music with djent leanings and a sprinkle of deathcore in a bid to keep their heads above the parapet. On the evidence of this record, they do a decent job.
The Way It Ends is the band’s first for SharpTone and second full length album following 2017’s The Place I Feel Safest, and it pulls no punches from the beginning. Here is a record that takes us through eleven well-crafted compositions and a plethora of emotions dominated by the overriding mood of survival. Joyous it is not, but neither is it an exercise in self-loathing or cliché. And, of course, with ex-Periphery bassist, Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood, behind the mixing desk, the distorted guitars are heavier than a wheelbarrow of concrete slabs. It’s not entirely original, but what is these days?
Those anticipating this album will already know the three video singles preceding it are angry affairs made for a live setting. ‘A Flag to Wave’ is pure carnage with drop-tuned guitars and a brutal breakdown riff at the end; ‘Poverty of Self’ has a scary nasal groan at the deathcore intro and retains a dynamism missing in most of their peers; and ‘Monsters’ is a wonderful piece of self-reflection with anthemic verses as well as choruses. The interplay between the guitars and drums are at their strongest on ‘Second Skin’, where the dynamic reaches a crescendo of palm-muted riffing and double-bass footwork to accompany the screams of “I am torn apart,” through the microphone.
If there’s one thing to distinguish Currents, it’s their determination to build the songs around Brian Wille’s voice and lyrics rather than the other way around. It’s all too common to lead with the heavy guitars and leave the vocals as an add-on at the end. But not here. The Connecticut five-piece have three consecutive attempts from track five to seven where they hope to produce an anthem that can transcend the impressive guitarwork and stand alone as a life-affirming mantra for their melancholy fortitude. They don’t quite succeed in comparison with Tesseract’s ‘Survival’ or the obvious benchmark in Jinjer’s ‘Pisces’. Again, they come close on final track, ‘Better Days’, which starts with a virtuoso stomp and tries to frame a tearjerker within a metalcore structure. The attempts are honourable but also detrimental, giving many of the songs a predictable dynamic of heavy riff at the beginning followed by a quiet verse, a loud bridge ,and an emotional chorus with little deviation for most of the album. No doubt, they’ll refine this on their next release and explore a more progressive soundscape in their evolution.
For now, Currents do enough to keep us satisfied with their vitality and willingness to mix the heavy with the introspective. The future suggests they’ll achieve their full vision on the next album, but this is a worthy prelude to greater things.
Release Date: 05/06/2020
Record Label: SharpTone Records
Standout tracks: A Flag to Wave, Poverty of Self, Better Days
Suggested Further Listening: The Contortionist – Language (2014), August Burns Red – Rescue & Restore (2013), Bleed From Within – Fracture (2020)