Hailing from the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada, Metalcore quintet Conquer Divide has come back together in Atlanta to record their long-awaited second full-length album, Slow Burn (Mascot Records). Slow Burn presents a balanced, cohesive collection of songs while also throwing the frequent curveball – ones that don’t throw the direction off track, but rather launch it forward into expanded territories.
Controlled chaos is the ultimate test of a band’s versatility and finesse, and Conquer Divide proves early on in the album that they can pull it off beautifully. “N E W H E A V E N” starts like your typical hard rock song, but the catchy crowd-chanted hook does not prepare unsuspecting ears for the heavy, screeching dissonance of the breakdown. However, they nailed the execution of this, making for a satisfying drop that enhances the preceding melodic hook while simultaneously jolting listeners like an electric shock.
Faint ambient textures and orchestral instruments transcend the heavy guitar tones of songs like “welcome2paradise”, the latter of which takes center stage for the melancholic outro. This sets up a smooth transition into “PRESSURE”, which opens with glitchy vocal snippets over an electronic beat and delicate guitar line. The impact of the chorus hits differently once the siren-like riffs break in to accentuate the contrasting melodies, and it just gets better each time it comes back.
The clever wordplay of “system_failure” and its references to corrupt systems in humanity drew me in quickly, and the varied vocal performances from Kiarely Taylor and Janel Duarte excel at delivering every level of frustration behind the lyrics. Evidently, when done right, something as simple as a menacing whisper of “your silence is betrayal” can make a song especially memorable.
Penultimate track “OnlyGirl” briefly switches things up with an opening verse composed solely of computerized sounds to back the vocals. This pays off brilliantly through the build-up of the following verse once the pummeling drums and thundering chords kick in. Spacey, eerie effects end the track to then flow seamlessly into “gAtEkEePer”, a powerful closer with a message to misogynists in the music industry, instant earworm chorus, and haunting minute-long piano outro.
Slow Burn is one of those albums that gets more compelling with each listen as more subtle details are discovered. Each replay confirms the astounding sonic planning and storytelling skills Conquer Divide have, raising hopes for more frequent releases from them in the future.
Buy the album here:
8 / 10