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Album Review: Hope resides for SA hardcore with Truth And Its Burden’s “I Labour”

Good things come to those who wait, and in Truth And Its Burden’s case the time spent on their third album I Labour has been worth the labour. Melodic hardcore fans in South Africa rejoiced when Truth And Its Burden finally release their eagerly anticipated third album I Labour tomorrow (Friday 14 July). Not only is this album one of the albums of the year, it could probably be the benchmark for melodic hardcore in South Africa.

This album has enough variety, catchy hooks, vicious screams, visceral in your face beats and melodic passages transport you to musical nirvana. The band has gotten tighter than before in their music and each song seems constructed for a certain purpose, in other words a lot of thought and effort went into this album – not that you would expect anything less from this hard working quintet who spreads love, hope and positivity into a broken world.

Here is a track by track rundown of I Labour.

  1. I Am Eternal (8/10)

Epic is one way to describe the intro to the album and like any good album opener it captivates you to listen further in anticipation with a clean guitar intro. The song then kicks into overdrive through Matt Sletcher’s drumming and Ashley de Beer harsh vocals that hit the hammer on the nail with a pulsating verse. The chorus has a fantastic musicality to it with some superb guitar work from Erick Gerber and Calvin Clayden as De Beer screams “Whoa, we are Eternal” – One of my favourite passages on the album.

  1. Empty Promises (6/10)

De Beer’s vocals and lyrics really shine on the second track which carries the song forward to the chorus. The musical break between the verse and chorus also adds something extra to the song about broken promises, failure and the inevitable with the refrain “what’s done is dusted,” sure to stick in your head for a long while to come. The “wooah’s” is also a welcome addition to this song. A well-rounded song that does the job of setting the tone for what is to come.

  1. Dead To The World (9/10)

The first single from I Labour is as fast paced and frenetic as they come and one of my favourite songs from this album. The guitar and drum buildup opens the scene for De Beer to hit his signature screams with intent as he sings about the injustices of the world and how being different makes you “Dead to the World”. The best part of these songs is in its shift in pace between the first verse and bridge before the second chorus hits: “Kicked in the teeth, we’ve been led astray, dead to the world, stabbed in the back.” One of the band’s best songs without a doubt.

  1. Regain Composure (8/10)

This song begins with the classic locker room monologue from Al Pacino in the football movie Any Given Sunday that opens the scene for the song  with a bang as De Beer hits a signature scream with pure intensity. “Regain Composure has a variety of different time structures and frenetic passages that really make it stand out from the rest of the album. This short and sharp song clocks in at 02:03 and it is so good you hope it lasts a bit longer. This track is all about regaining your strength and your inner ability in trying times and when your faith is tested.

  1. Righteous & The Meek (8/10)

“No Weakness in Forgiveness,” screams De Beer to open this song up with these important words about being open, being yourself and not being scared to let go of the things that hold you down or hurt you. Being vulnerable and forgiving should not be a sign of weakness. The drumming in this opening sequence is also of the highest quality from Sletcher and has to be applauded. “We need to tie and mend the broken ties without the fear of letting go. We are the future left to build upon, righteous and the meek,” is one of my go to lyrics on this album. Brilliantly written.

  1. Fortified (8/10)

“Fortified” builds its song structure on an excellent opening riff and a solid bass line from Niekie van Niekerk. De Beer’s screams of “Let Go” is also something to behold and really shows off his ability as a hardcore vocalist. He hits some ridiculously high and low screams in this one that really echoes the despair and emotion in his voice. This is one thing you will get from Truth And Its Burden – emotion and passion in every lyric. The dual and backing vocals are also one of the interesting parts of the song and really work to a tee with guitar melodies adding texture to this part.

  1. Reset/Renew (8/10)

This is one of the slower and more unique songs from Truth And Its Burden and really adds to the diversity on this album. This song gives a but of a break to the listener after 20 minutes of non-stop hardcore attack on the eardrums. This song is like a satisfying dessert after a good meal – indulgent. The clean guitar delayed notes are almost heavenly before a nice electric guitar riff with bass and drums join the action. When De Beer’s screams start in the middle of the song it does not seem out of place as he sings “I can’t shake this desperation. The pressure, the panic. Survival. We push, we pull the wool over ourselves.” This emotional song about climbing out of desperation and renewing our minds to the positive is well crafted and although different for this band actually fits in perfectly into their discography.

  1. Live Through Hell (7/10)

“Live through Hell” takes us back to the well-known sound of Truth And Its Burden as the band paints a picture of modern society and their day to day struggles in this track that is both melodic and hard hitting as the instruments and De Beer’s vocals play off well against each other. There is even a nice mini solo in this track – something that you might not expect from a typical melodic hardcore song. This extends to a beautiful outro that ends the song perfectly.

  1. Iron and Fire (9/10)

This is without a doubt one of the highlights of the album with a pulsating intro that is built on Sletcher’s bass drumming, Clayden’s guitar picking and the repeating refrain of “We don’t give up, not without a fight, we don’t give in, Iron and Fire.” When De Beer screams “Iron & Fire” followed by a fast drum beat, you know you are in for a great song. The palm muted guitar chugs in the verse is also one of the best parts before the intro/chorus is repeated again. A true back and forth between softer and harsher sounds that really blend perfectly. The bridge just continues this song’s greatness with a last positive decree from the band: “Wooah, with iron & fire, let hope reside.”

  1. Weightless (9/10)

The final track on this album does the job perfectly to round off I Labour on a high note as themes of overcoming negativity, regret, self-acceptance, and freedom from doubt. This number starts off with the chorus “Never enough in reflection I saw what you saw, till there’s nothing left of me. It’s just never enough. Never enough. The second rendition of “Never enough” is one of my favourite parts on the album as De Beer just screams it with truth in his voice.  This is probably one of the most complex songs on the album and also one of their best. “Shed aside the weight of these words!,” screams De Beer in the bridge with a great drum pattern in the background before the guitar based outro carries the song to its end. It is one of those songs that you want to replay again and again. Its strong point lies in its relatable themes.

Score: 80/100 – A

 I  Labour is a real visceral listening experience that evokes the senses and mind with energy and a great pulse throughout the record. Definitely their best work yet. These guys get better with age and experience. The lyrics are on point and musicianship and the delivery of each song is done with immense passion.

  • Be sure to catch Truth & Its Burden at the following venues on their nationwide album tour:

14 July – Rumours Rock City – Johannesburg: https://www.facebook.com/events/667849270083465/?ref=br_rs

15 July – Winston Pub – Durban: https://www.facebook.com/events/1541342075905686/?ref=br_rs

4 August – ROAR LIVE – Cape Town: https://www.facebook.com/events/704211753104047/?acontext=%7B%22action_history%22%3A%22null%22%7D

 

  AUTHOR
Wouter Pienaar
Sport Journalist

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