LABEL: RED BULL RECORDS
RELEASE DATE: JUNE 10, 2014
Hot off of the hype that 2013’s EP Sick built up, Beartooth has released Disgusting, the debut full-length from Caleb Shomo’s solo project. Unfortunately, the hype behind the album fails to match the quality of the album. Disgusting sounds like a disorganized attempt at punk rock trying to sound clean.
Disgusting is a 12 track album, but it could also be the same song on repeat twelve times if it wasn’t for the changing lyrics. Very quickly, it becomes apparent that each song feels schizophrenic. Shomo can usually be heard wailing in increasing anger until he shrieks angrily before breaking into a Hot Topic-made chorus seemingly meant to appeal to disenfranchised teenagers. “I just want to feel loved!” repeats Shomo over and over again on the album’s closer, “Sick and Disgusting.” Maybe the message is genuine, but it’s driven into the ground by excessive repetition. Shomo doesn’t ever seem to say something once; lines are repeated over and over again, and choruses are only special because of the jarring shift to polished, clean vocals.
Musically, Disgusting does draw from elements of modern hardcore, both aggressive and artsy, but those moments never last, pushed aside for generic choruses and the same type of breakdown every track. It all becomes a very weird mix, generally sounding very unpleasant. It’s hard to take Shomo’s emotions seriously when angry shouts are followed by Pro-Tools perfected cleans. As soon as Beartooth gathers steam, it deflates boringly into a forgettable chorus. A few songs, such as “Keep Your American Dream” manage to stick partially in the mind, but they are, for the most part, forgettable.
The lyrics on Disgusting are well-meaning, but are ultimately negated by excessive repetition. Shomo tends to repeat phrases incessantly; eventually, it starts to feel like a drill between the ears, because each chorus is fairly similar. Themes explored on Disgusting will hit home with a lot of Beartooth’s target audience: abuse, depression and suicide, and being oneself are commonplace lyrical topics throughout the album. The nobility of the themes is lost, however, after being smashed over the head repeatedly with messages of hope. Not that positivity is a negative thing, but it is positivity that borders on constant preachiness. Still, it is refreshing to hear such frankness in Shomo’s lyrics.
Beartooth’s debut is a disappointing effort from a musician who has teased such potential. Disgusting quickly starts to feel like a repetitive collection of singles rather than a cohesive and original album, brought down by a consistently erratic formula and a bludgeoning of overplayed lyrics.