Published Oct 29, 2019Brendan Murphy and his roster of melodic hardcore masterminds have been haunted by past since their initial first wave of success. This year marks ten years since Counterparts unleashed Prophets into the MySpace stratosphere. Its reach was limited, but the debut garnered a cult following that is still heard in echoes from the Hamilton-based group's ever-growing audience. Members always insisted on staying present — growing from their last record's missteps, each breakdown harder than the last, every new lyric more sombre and production cleaner with each session.
Throughout their timeline, there have been several arrivals and departures. In 2013, guitarist Alex Re drifted to the background, contributing as an occasional songwriter. In 2016, core songwriter and lead guitarist Jesse Doreen stepped down from touring to participate in writing sessions. Then-drummer Kelly Bilan was also released of his duties. Two years on from the critical success You're Not You Anymore, Counterparts have changed once more on Nothing Left to Love, but not how many expected. A press release last month revealed that Re re-joined the band, replacing Adrian Lee.
Counterparts are embracing their musical lineage more than ever before. It is immediately evident from the introductory "Love Me," a serving of straightforward chugs and solemn melodic licks from Re and Blake Hardman that nods to the darker side of Counterparts, not heard since key tracks on 2015's Tragedy Will Find Us, and (yes!) 2010's Prophets.
Later, "Separate Wounds" proves that Counterparts have honed in on the crushing songwriting and nostalgia surrounding their decade-spanning career. The pitch harmonics and china cymbal mosh parts make two things abundantly clear: Murphy and company will always have a soft spot for Misery Signals and Saints Never Surrender; and they haven't forgotten the straightforward nature that made their last LP such a delight.
The following track, "Your Own Knife," is the indisputable highlight of Nothing Left to Love, and a formative song for the record's artwork. Murphy ruminates about the knife as a metaphor for one's struggles, taking a critical perspective emphasized in whispered pit calls and some of the heaviest guitar work from Counterparts thus far. A song this stirring makes duller cuts like "Imprints" and the title track pass by with ease; mellow moments of both songs feel much less confident than the clear-cut successes of NLTL.
This is exactly what Counterparts needed to do. New ears will dig into their extensive body of work and old heads will rejoice, for the metalcore kings that once played church basements in London, ON for a $2 cover are back at it. Nothing Left to Love is a summation of the group's work — the depressing, invigorating and outright draining moments of their history in an impressive 30 minutes. (New Damage)