Counting Days - Liberated Sounds
In short, Counting Days’ Liberated Sounds is 12 tracks of full-bodied British metal that gets the blood boiling in the best possible way. Much in the same vain as fellow Brits Stoneghost, their sound is massive, charging at you like a runaway freight train, but there use of space within the chaotic riffs which create elbowroom for some dextrous grooves and memorable sonic batterings. Burned By Faith is a towering opening statement, lacking any kind of subtlety it pounds at your head with a menace and grit that's very easy to get on board with. It simply whisks you away. The broken chords and soaring vocal delivery on Die Alone's chorus helps continue that momentum excellently, by now solidifying their sound within your psyche, with the bridge section dropping for a more emotive, cinematic break before their guttural refrains take another swipe at you. The breakdown that concludes this one-two opener is simply monstrous, string sections draping a classiness over the band's unapologetic core.
As cliché as this may sound, Beaten & Scarred is a mosh pit opening kind of anthem - the type of song destined to cause anarchy on the live circuit. As the riffs drop alongside Lasselle Lewis’ snappy, punk inspired drum work, you can already see flailing hair and flying bodies, feel the stickiness of venue floors and smell of bullet like sweat in a pit full of adrenalised metalheads.
Elsewhere, Life & Death may open a little too similar to its predecessor – whining feedback and punk drumming once more before the riff snarls and all hell breaks loose – but fuck, when those kick drums start rattling and the chorus takes over, you forget all about that.
As mighty as they often sound on this, their Xth record, Counting Days bassist/vocalist Alex Dench does at times rasp a little too much to the point it drifts off into more While She Sleeps, Motionless In White type vocal deliveries, of which I’m not greatly enamoured with. But therein is something impressive. They stride betwixt a variety of heavy metal demographics in a way – they have those Pantera, stomping riffs and they have that Machine Head fashioned epicness to the overall size of their sound, but they also have a side to them which is sure to go down like a spoonful of sugar for fans of those aforementioned more teen appealing acts.
It may sound crude, but as a product it is solid and highly sellable. Dench may sing about stating a revolution atop of dirty riff with harmonics splattered throughout like blood on a pristine white wall, but this isn’t revolutionary. And I mean that in a good way. It sounds familiarly powerful but fresh all the while. It may not push boundaries but, within pre-existing and already well admired confides of metal’s splintered sub-categories it dominates among a slew of similar new acts. This is a record that, upon listening, you’re left with no choice but to sit up and take note.
The biggest issue this record faces is maintaining listener interest from start to finish. So, does it?
Fire From The Sky and Cold Truth, songs rooted in metalcore, have ear-catching solos which bring to mind vintage Bullet For My Valentine (Christ that makes me feel old writing that) and Pray For Villains era Devildriver. Days Go By is rhythmically robust while The Vines is a spacey, Planet Caravan type interlude which works hard to break up the otherwise punishing assault of their songs. It may come a little late in the track listing, but it’s a welcome break nonetheless and one that gives Sands Of Time, which follows and features Tomas Lindberg of At The Gates, a greater impetus. But, honestly, apart from that the latter songs on the album begin to blend and bleed into one another. They have a very distinct sound, yes, but they are almost too set inside it. I recommend breaking the album up to devour it across several listening sessions to properly appreciate everything equally. It’s not that these songs aren’t as good as the opening tracks, but by the end I just started growing a little tiresome of another barrage of songs of the same ilk. More songs like The Vines and other flavours and colours here and there are needed to make this a better album all round.
An enjoyable record but one that may struggle to leave you yearning for repeat listens.
Words: Phil Weller