Currents – ‘The Death We Seek’

By Fiachra Johnston

It’s hard work being internet darlings, but someone has to do it and Currents have slowly but surely become one of metalcore’s most underrated groups. The Connecticut quintet have achieved renown in the scene, releasing two adored LPs (in 2017 and 2020), putting their own spin on the stylistic staples of the genre. ‘The Death We Seek’ looks to make it a trifecta, and with a generous mix of angelic clean vocals that contrast the deathly heavy instrumentals behind them, it’s another roaring success.

‘The Death We Seek’ is the first of Currents’ records to be produced by Jeff Dunne Of Ice Nine Kills/Motionless In White/Most Other Beloved Bands In The Scene-fame, and his fingerprints are present from the opening notes of the title track. Thick and technical guitar lines don’t so much carve a path through the song as they do bludgeon it out of the way. There’s so much weight to everything here, it’s surprising the band itself hasn’t been crushed. It’s a surprising choice as Currents are part of a wave of metalcore built on technical riffs and sharp vocals, with thundering instrumentation taking a background role to allow the minute details of these riffs to shine. This time around, through the production, heaviness has taken centre stage.

This focus on raw heaviness does offer more opportunities for lead singer Brian Wille to wreak havoc on the mic (and his vocal cords), which he does with gleeful abandon. ‘Beyond This Road’ and ‘Living In Tragedy’ feature some of the band’s most well put together vocal lines from Wille and backing vocalist/bassist Christian Pulgarin: clean and rough vocals both perfected and used in perfect balance, with the rough vocals especially going haywire throughout ‘Living In Tragedy’. ‘Gone Astray’, likewise, is full of diabolical screams, a shuddering drum line from Matt Young perforating the middle of the track as you question what manner of cybernetic demon is trying to escape via Wille’s throat. So much of this album benefits from all 5 members fully committing to the rage it exudes, the result being some of the hardest tracks they’ve ever released while still committing to Currents’ brand of sombre lyricism and clean vocals.

Where the album fails is in the mix; with so much of Currents’ strength drawn from the balance of heaviness and lighter touches in the instrumentation, those bellowing low-ends cause some of the subtley of the mid tones to disappear. Well-crafted details are lost under the weight of overwhelming rhythm guitars. You can hear it in the more stereotypically chugging ‘Vengeance’, which, while certainly a hard-hitting track, lacks the impact of of its more melodic-infused counterparts.

Currents counter this by dropping some of their prog technicality in favour of pure energetic noise, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a swathe of tasty riffs and solos for fans to feast on. ‘Unfamiliar’ especially lets lead guitarist Chris Wiseman off his chain for a particularly vicious guitar line that’s one of the record’s standout moments. Again, this album is held together by the talent and partnership its members seem to possess, losing none of their identity throughout the record.

As a result, Currents’ biggest strength remains: sheer rawness, both in tone and lyrics. If you find yourself emotionally drained by the end of ’Remember Me’, you’re not alone. It’s a wailing dirge of a track that contrasts both hope and utter despair with beautiful imagery: “I will not let hate be my last sin” Wille states as a whirlwind of sound engulfs him. ‘Guide Us Home’, the closing track, couples a heinous breakdown and manic guitar solos from both Wiseman and Ryan Castaldi, while Wille seems to proselytise their own downfall: “Don’t save us, like we’re unworthy of your forgiveness”. It’s frantic and desperate, the contrast between lamenting lyricism and savage backing instrumentation closing the album out in stark fashion.

For those who consider Currents to be the band that represents the peak of modern metalcore, ‘The Death We Seek’ will delight. Vicious and introspective at the same time, this album continues to evolve the dichotomy of savagery and sombreness that the band have made their trademark. Holding onto a lot of their range while never losing momentum throughout an album is a difficult enough feat on its own, yet at the same time Currents have tweaked enough their core formula to perfect the house blend of melodic metalcore and bone-rattling prog that’s thrust them to the forefront of the scene, even if some nuance has been lost along the way. It’s an aural ice-cream sundae, with flavours to suit fans of all tastes, and it’s impossible to deny the hold Currents will continue to have over the scene.

FIACHRA JOHNSTON

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