Album Of The Week: Beartooth's Disease

A portrait of a struggle bravely shared and perfectly painted by someone who wants you to know you’re not alone.

Album Of The Week: Beartooth's Disease

Depression is a monster. It’s a confusing, suffocating behemoth that, if left unchallenged, creeps in and robs you of your ability to fight back. Beartooth frontman Caleb Shomo knows this all too well and, here on his band’s third album, documents that David vs Goliath battle with his own demons. Song-by-song, round-by-round he fights for survival – and it makes for compelling, relatable and genuinely edge-of-your-seat listening.

Thematically, Disease might be similar to the band’s first two outings as it explores the turmoil of Caleb’s mental health, but musically it’s an undeniable progression. The guitars sound mountainously huge, the drums kick harder, and the frontman’s vocals sound more intense and desperate than ever.

True to form, Beartooth manage to bury their colossal choruses under six feet of rage, allowing them to deliver some of the most crushing sing-alongs you’re likely to hear in this lifetime. Take Believe, which, were it not for the fact that it sounds like it would bite your face off, carries ‘whoas’ by the ton.

Opener Greatness Or Death lulls you into a false sense of security with an acoustic intro before punching you in the face with a deafening battle cry of ‘Destined for greatness or death!’, while the punishing, 20-odd-second guitar breakdown on Used And Abused shamelessly gives way to a hands-in-the-air chorus. And the biggest and most euphoric moment of Fire includes the lyric, ‘I hope you came here ready to die.’ On paper it all sounds tough, but blasted into your earholes at full volume it makes complete sense.

This is the duality of Beartooth. They’re heavy as hell, yet serve up chorus after chorus without even flinching. The songs are snapshots of the exhausting battle against depression, yet instead of being dreary and draining, they’re inspiring, exhilarating and even uplifting. And while debut album Disgusting (2014) and its follow-up Aggressive (2016) bore these hallmarks, never have the band’s contradictions been more satisfyingly, expertly and bruisingly delivered than on this record. Throughout, the band seamlessly marry delirium and destruction as they serve up their heaviest music to date.

So, is Disease the album where Caleb wins his battle? No, because mental health doesn’t work like that. There is no final boss to be defeated, only the constant will to get better and survive. Disease is, instead, a portrait of a struggle bravely shared and perfectly painted by someone who wants you to know you’re not alone.

Words: John Longbottom

Check out more:

Now read these

The best of Kerrang! delivered straight to your inbox three times a week. What are you waiting for?