Who doesn’t like a good love song? Perhaps the most frequently explored theme in modern music history, the pain of romantic heartbreak appears in every style of songwriting, from country to blues to folk to rock to hip-hop and every subset in between. Still, while many genres lend themselves readily to the subject, others traditionally don’t. Like, say, metal.
With their new self-titled EP, local hardcore/metal outfit Rise to Fight proves that hard music has a soft side and unleashes a maelstrom of anguish-ridden laments on love lost. I’m as shocked as you are.
Though emotional, this is not “emo.” All the signature elements of metal are here: Distortion-washed guitars crunch and shred over pounding bass lines and thunderous drums. Meanwhile, vocals howl, scream and screech in intimidating fashion — you can get a sore throat just by listening. But it’s the words delivered by those shrieks that gives this writer pause. On the album’s opener, the pointedly titled “Chivalry is Dead,” is lead singer Ryan Lewis saying, “So what’s the point in trying / When love is stripped and torn?” Yes. Yes, he does. Merle Haggard would be proud.
What we have here is a bona fide breakup song, folks. Lewis likely won’t cause many young girls to swoon with his aggro-rock delivery, but his words frequently stand up favorably to the sad-sack musings of many a lovelorn singer-songwriter. Guess you don’t have to be a wuss to have a broken heart.
While breakups are a running theme throughout the disc’s five tracks, Rise to Fight does touch on more traditional hard-core themes such as disillusionment and the loss of innocence (“Where Dreams Go to Die”) and perseverance in the face of injustice (“For What It’s Worth”). And like the love-tinged numbers, Lewis proves lyrically adept at conveying angst and anger with aggressive aplomb.
Rise to Fight are a talented group, and with their new EP they add yet another solid recording to the strong but oft-overlooked heavy-music scene in Burlington. Kudos, boys. And my condolences on the breakup.