Those who saw Renounced play one of their recent European dates, already knew there was something big coming but now the wait is finally over: Renounced have unleashed Theories of Despair upon the world.
Renounced’s second full length on Carry the Weight Records bulks with ruthless nineties metalcore riffs reminiscent of Disembodied or Unbroken but what distinguishes Renounced from other nineties revival bands is their sense of melody and emotion. Squeaking guitar sounds seamlessly coexist with dreamy melodies while vocalist Daniel Gray unburdens his feelings shifting between spoken parts, vicious screams and heavy grunts. Gray’s lyrics tie the record together. By intelligibly declaring key phrases before screaming them, he makes the contrast between soft introspective parts and brutal breakdowns seem very natural. Renounced’s trademark contrast between heaviness and emotion is best displayed on ‘A Fire No Longer Burns’, a track that could be considered the ultimate Renounced song.
By now people familiar with Renounced’s discography realize that the band hasn’t altered its sound that much. With Theories of Despair Renounced take things one step further though. ‘Heart Beats Cold’ and ‘As Delicate As Moths Wings’ contain some of the grooviest riffs Renounced have ever written. The hard as nails, blast beat filled ending to ‘My Last Dying Wish’ surpasses all earlier work in terms of heaviness.
Theories of Despair is Renounced’s most consistent record so far. Opener ‘Buried’ starts with a sample of a crying man which immediately sets the mood for the album. ‘The Fragility of Life’, the sixth track and only instrumental, ends with thirty seconds of silence. Could this be an indication that Theories of Despair is meant to be played on vinyl? B-side opener ‘Anxiety in Black And White’ immediately kicks off with trampling drums, igniting the fuse for another twenty minutes of relentless hardcore. Towards the end of the record, Renounced slow things down again. But this time the mellow instrumental sounds are not final. Following up on another sample Renounced come back with everything they’ve got for one last time which makes closing track ‘Inner Reprisal’ serve as a perfect apotheosis.
Theories of Despair displays a lot of variety, not only between songs but throughout them as well. It’s tough and tender at the same time. Fans of real metalcore do not want to miss out on what might well turn out to be the album of the year.
Track list – Theories of Despair
2. A Fire No Longer Burns
3. Heart Beats Cold
4. Abandon Your King
5. As Delicate As Moth Wings
6. The Fragility Of Life
7. Anxiety In Black And White
8. Only Ourselves To Blame
9. My Last Dying Wish
10. Theories Of Despair
11. Inner Reprisal
Written by Wannes Dewanckel