With the longer, colder nights drawing in, the long, hot Scottish summer of 2018 seems almost like a distant memory. However, this is by no means a reason to despair! True, September for many hails the end of the great holiday season, and the inevitable return to the office and the classroom. On the other hand, it’s also the prelude to Halloween, cosy jumpers and new rock album releases, such as Disease, the third studio album from American hardcore quintet Beartooth.
Given that Beartooth began as a form of “artistic self-medication” for founder and lead vocalist Caleb Shomo, Disease seems like a strangely appropriate album title. Even more fittingly, the themes of illness and well-being are carefully woven throughout most of the album’s twelve tracks, and with each song lasting around three and a half minutes, it’s easy to get a sense of being fed equal, regular doses of musical medicine.
Like a doctor offering assurance before giving an injection, Disease’s opening track Greatness or Death eases the listener in gently with its intro, then shatters the silence with Shomo’s raw, unrelenting vocals. This is accompanied with full-on, thrashing melodies from guitarists Zach Huston and Kamron Bradbury, and punchy drums and bass courtesy of Connor Dennis and Oshie Bichar respectively.
The title track, which is currently doing the rounds on all the rock radio stations, is distinctly anthemic, conveying a relatable sense of frustration with undertones of hope and perseverance; no doubt a profound reflection of a seriously ill patient’s emotional journey. These feelings are intensified in Afterall, which deals with the exploration, acknowledgement and acceptance of human flaws and errors. With lyrics like “thought I had this figured out”, “must be doing this all wrong” and “just human after all”, Disease succeeds in portraying not just physical, but also emotional and mental struggles.
By the time closing track Clever rolls around, Disease in its entirety will have, somewhat ironically, provided a balm to soothe that deadline stress, that touch of the autumn blues, or that sniffly cold you feel coming on. Okay, maybe it won’t cure the last one, but it’ll definitely leave any listener feeling better than before. It’s a real emotional remedy with no prescription required.
The final word on Disease is simply this: have headphones close to hand. The neighbours may not thank you for sharing it, especially at eight in the morning.