There are three types of metalcore. The hardcore bands that use the Slayer influence but rage like Cro-Mags (Integrity, Hatebreed); those that come from hardcore but prefer thrash and appreciate alternative rock (Killswitch Engage, Parkway Drive); and those that take inspiration from the second category and add melodic rock hooks and pop choruses (Bring Me the Horizon, Of Mice and Men). North Carolina debutants, Seeking Sirens, belong in the latter but straddle the heavier side of the mid-2000s mainstream when things were much more exciting. It’s predictable but not unlistenable.
Seeking Sirens is the culmination of a long-held ambition from vocalist, Joseph Izayea (From Under Concrete Kings), and recording engineer/musician, Kevin Wilson (Fear the United / Vanisher), to collaborate on a musical project. You can sense their excitement on the opening title-track, where a polished Godflesh beat opens the path for an extravagant groove metal slam and a flurry of contorted fills. Izayea shows a good talent for switching personality from vengeful low-range screamer to tuneful rock crooner, yet you can also hear the violent streak of Suicide Silence if you dig deeper. You think the chorus will blunt the heavy start, but the down-picking riff in the mid-section shakes you like a catatonic patient brought back to life by Frankenstein’s monster.
The problems arise on ‘Surface’. Track two of a metal EP is not the place to squander momentum with a melancholy rock number dressed up in high-treble guitar distortion and the obligatory low tuning range. ‘Splinter’ is better, but you already know the melodic chorus will be the focal point of the song. This is unfortunate because the elaborate finger-tapping guitar patterns and gargling bass grooves give Izayea the ideal platform to test his low-end vocal gymnastics. It feels like the crushing breakdown at the end is compensation for those that struggled through the sorrowful parts with a yawn at the back of their throat. Wilson’s superb audio engineering stops it from falling into mediocrity, but you want more of the street aggression and less of the soul-searching angst from the suburbs.
Like August Burns Red, the quintet from Seeking Sirens do little to annoy you, but they struggle to lift you above the tepid comfort in your life that will one day render you innocuous. This is metal for the edgy shops in the mall and those times when you need something to play in the background. The expressive acoustic chord-picking in the intro to ‘Grip’ will pique your interest, but the chorus will remind you how many of today’s bands take inspiration from Faith No More’s The Real Thing via the third-generation copyists that influence today’s metalcore artists. ‘Living Truth’ is more like it. This is a good way to end the EP – it’s complex, chunkier, angrier, less enamoured with bottling the rage into a container for sorrow. Avoiding the standard metalcore chorus would be the smart move, but Izayea is too talented to neglect the more melodic side of his voice.
Seeking Sirens have plenty of potential, but they need to emancipate beyond the tried and tested methods of mainstream metalcore to find their true sound. There’s enough metallic madness to feed your urge on Departing Ways, but you’ve heard it a thousand times over the last fifteen years.
Release Date: 03/06/2022
Record Label: Self Released
Standout tracks: Departing Ways, Living Truth
Suggested Further Listening: InVisions – Deadlock (2022), Killswitch Engage – The End of Heartache (2004), August Burns Red – Guardians (2020)