'Fury By Failure' Review: Lightworker shine with brutal metalcore riffs, lovely harmonies and inspiring lyrics
According to the band, their goal is to 'offer a quiet sense of hope in a blisteringly broken world, proving heavy music can carry a lightness all its own'
San Francisco-based metalcore merchants Lightworker are back with their first full-length offering titled 'Fury by Failure'. Following up on their 2017 debut EP 'Resilience', Lightworker has successfully managed to fuse their metalcore and post-hardcore sensibilities into a sound that is both harmonious yet brutal, like a tuning fork with jagged edges. Vocalist Joe Calderon, guitarist Grayson Hurd, drummer Ryan Johnson, and bassist Brad Green are set to stir things up in the melodic metalcore landscape with their first release on Solid State Records.
The album opens with 'Empyre', a powerful hard-hitter of a track written by guitarist Hurd. Offering a taste of what's to come, Lightworker doles out a dosage of heavy riffage, crisp, tight drumming, and fantastic growling / clean singing in emphatic style. The lyrics, penned by vocalist Joe Calderon, speak about awakening and realization. It's an introspective dialogue with one's self about everything that has transpired and the transformation that is to follow.
Calderon captures the essence of this transformation while swaying between a monstrous growl and a soaring clean voice. The angst in the song is also very well communicated by the band — Hurd produces a cascade of riffs that are aptly supported by drummer Ryan Johnson. 'Empyre' is a blazing opener and helps sets the tone for the rest of the album.
'The Willing Martyr' is next and is another dose of heavy, uncompromising metal. The song continues where 'Empyre' left off thematically and poses questions to the self about one’s identity and image, and how the self has become martyred as a result. The guitar assault is tight and punchy, while drummer Johnson keeps the pounding battery section busy, laying down taut rhythms for the guitars and Calderon to build on. The breakdown section also sees some exquisite guitar playing coupled with snappy drum sections.
'10/18' follows next and this is a more melodic outing that speaks of love, a promise to be kept, and inevitable loss. Calderon is in full flow as a vocalist and delivers a great performance on this track. The lyrics penned by Calderon are also strongly emotive: "Your words are still burning inside, and I’m hanging on to them" croons Calderon against a lovely backdrop of guitars and drums. The guitars keep the mood on this song hopeful and the choice of notes communicates a positive outlook and a driving sense of self-improvement.
The hope of '10/18' gives way to conflict in 'See The World Like You'. In this song penned by Calderon and Hurd, the disconnect in worldviews is addressed and explored. Calderon sings about overcoming adversity and the change it brings about in one's perception. Lines like "I haven't come this far to fall apart / My worth counts for more than your words" reaffirm the perception of self and hardens one's resolve. The song stays heavy until the breakdown, where there is a gorgeous climax of glorious harmony as the guitars produce a spectacular performance.
'Words Dissolve' is next and gallops in angrily. Calderon makes up for the lack of aggression in '10/18' by spitting fire on this track, and drummer Johnson also delivers some fantastic drumming passages to set the tone perfectly. 'Words Dissolve' strikes a great balance between aggression and musicality with great singing sections as well as some punishing and pummeling music. The lyrics speak of acceptance in the face of inevitability and still sticking to one's purpose, although it may seem inconsequential in the end. The guitars shine with some interlaced harmonic playing and tasty licks throughout.
'Losing Ground' comes in next and features lyrics by Calderon and Carley Coma. The song speaks about the feeling of falling, the frustrations of repeated failure, and letting go of everything that binds the self down. The vibe of resolutely forging ahead comes through admirably in the unrelenting music. "It wears me down and it wears me out" sings Calderon, describing the grinding sensation of fruitless labor and a realization that everything comes to an end. Johnson does a great job with his choice of tight drum licks, which are tastefully used to accompany the stellar guitar work of Hurd.
'Cholera' is up next and this is a song that talks about losing oneself and beginning anew. After everything that is near and dear has been lost, rebirth and renewal are only inevitable. The lyrics penned by Calderon speak of the jadedness that comes with dwelling in the painful past, and how, in spite of there being "nothing to show, I’ll begin again." This bittersweet track looks to the future while turning one's back on what has transpired and cannot be changed. The song also features female vocalist Laura McElroy, who adds a surprising and welcome musical contrast to the other tracks in the album.
'Remove The Earth' is next and opens up with some great twin guitar work. The song is introspective and talks about how grief overtakes one's senses. It focuses on the remorse felt from wrongdoings and the blinding sense of pain that transpires in its aftermath. Penned by Calderon, 'Remove The Earth' also comes with the realization that nothing can be changed once it is in the past. The music is supportive of this vibe and has the guitarist Hurd display fanciful deftness with his fingers once again.
'Beyond the Pale' is up next and hits hard with the drumming of Johnson and Hurd's fiery riffage. Calderon talks about the aftermath of an event that presumably ends everything and questions the future of one's self. "I will find my way out of this endless tragedy" he sings, searching his soul for answers to questions of uncertainty and inevitable destruction. The song also features a fantastic solo by Hurd and some stellar drumming by Johnson, who holds fort admirably throughout the quick tempo changes and mood variations of the song.
'Dissonance' is the final track on the album and it is also the longest. Starting off with Calderon singing to strains of an acoustic guitar, the track explodes into a mammoth beast that immediately becomes a memorable standout. At a little over six minutes, the track talks about the inevitable end, coming to terms with what cannot be changed, and how blind belief provides a final shelter for the weary self.
The song weaves in and out of light musical spaces and heavy, uncompromising sections throughout. As a band, Lightworker does a magnificent job of delivering new-age metalcore that is markedly heavy, blissfully melodic, and wistfully wry. The guitars wrap up the album with a stunning display of technical prowess and flair, while drummer Ryan Johnson cements his position as a fantastic drummer with an energetic performance of the highest level.
According to Lightworker themselves, their goal is to "offer a quiet sense of hope in a blisteringly broken world, proving heavy music can carry a lightness all its own." The result is a fantastic genre-bending record that is uplifting yet crushing, wonderfully melodic while still being uncompromisingly heavy. Lightworker is definitely one to watch out for in the future if you're a fan of melodic metalcore with insightful lyrics.