Counterparts – A Eulogy For Those Still Here (Album Review)

Counterparts – A Eulogy For Those Still Here (Album Review)

For Melodic Hardcore’s Counterparts, the need to escape being buried alive by grief is at the epicenter of their seventh full-length offering, A Eulogy For Those Still Here. Pure Noise Records helps to ease the burden on Friday, October 7, 2022.

Not all surprises are good. Sometimes life has a way of cruelly snatching away happiness, leaving its victims a shell of their former selves. In art as on the mortal plane, catharsis is never a given though artists often seek solace in their work. And this Canadian quintet’s frontman, Brendan Murphy, is no stranger to poetic raging. Since 2007, he and a rotating shift of counterparts, ahem, have been taking the Melodic Hardcore scene by storm. From their 2010 debut, Prophets, to 2017’s highly-acclaimed You’re Not You Anymore, they have slowly eked up the Billboard charts as their music spread across the globe.

But it’s a sudden and tragic absence that helped to pen the band’s latest, A Eulogy For Those Still Here, and not a celebration of their success. Much as its title implies, the album’s 11 songs are thick with catastrophizing and densely packed emotion, as well as a face-off with the grief inherent in saying goodbye. Produced and engineered by Fit For An Autopsy’s Will Putney (Norma Jean, Knocked Loose), the collection sees Counterparts—Vocalist Murphy, Guitarist/Vocalist Alex Re, Guitarist Jesse Doreen, Bassist Tyler Williams, and Drummer Kyle Brownlee—stretching their wings within the walls of each track while remaining true to their Hardcore roots.

It opens with a short introduction, “7/26/2020,” as Re and Doreen’s guitars evoke a solemnity befitting of “Whispers of Your Death.” Anyone who has ever had a loved one begin to fade before their eyes—be they human or a better species altogether, and no matter their particular disease—can relate to the gut-wrenching sorrow that explodes from Murphy’s chest, a place that once provided warmth to his beloved furry friend. It’s a hard pill to swallow, one that establishes a disconsolate atmosphere suiting an album that wears its losses and dire expectations like murderous moorings.

Throughout, we serve as bystanders as Murphy explores a myriad of endings: from the idea of losing his current career in “Bound to the Burn” to the blunt-force struggle with songwriting that is “Sworn to Silence.” But it is the tracks that touch on the intensity of the vocalist’s inner turmoil and morbid expectations that deliver the most visceral beatings. Like the suffocating mass of the album’s namesake, “A Eulogy For Those Still Here,” that ironically presents some of the boldest melodies in Counterparts’ recent history. When paired with the hauntingly beautiful guitar work of “Skin Beneath A Scar,” it is a gut-wrenching wallop that allows us to experience what it means to become an afterthought.

Bangers exist throughout, but the heaviest aspect of the collection is its brutal honesty. Through his lyrics, Murphy dissects a plethora of topics that all connect to his unintentionally-constructed concept of farewells, remarking on the noose of perfection (“What Mirrors Might Reflect”), wrestling with bouts of Schadenfreude (“Unwavering Vow”), and beyond. And there are creative juxtapositions in the band’s accompanying compositions, like the soaring melodies found inside “Flesh to Fill Your Wounds,” which belie the true depths of the author’s psychological pain. As a whole, it is a dark journey that toys with the idea of returning to the earth (“Soil II”) before its soaring finale, “A Mass Grave of Saints,” provides a summary of all that has come before, from the pain of living when those we love have gone (from our world or just from our lives) to the knowledge that the sustainability of one’s current lifestyle is unlikely.

Perhaps thanks to the return of Re and Doreen, A Eulogy For Those Still Here allows Counterparts to do a bit of creative flexing, expanding their song structures to complement the nuance of Murphy’s mental chess. While it is ultimately up to fans to decide where the album will fall in the band’s growing oeuvre of material, this paean to loss upholds the quintet’s previous standards as it provides yet another window into the soul of its complicated creator. For this, Cryptic Rock gives A Eulogy For Those Still Here 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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Jeannie Blue
[email protected]

Jeannie likes to joke that she is little, yellow, blue, and different. She seemingly popped out of her mother's womb with a pen in her hand and has been writing ever since. Many moons ago - in what feels like a separate lifetime - Jean was co-editor of an online music magazine that afforded her great opportunities to interview and photograph some of her favorite bands/musicians: Tommy Lee, Good Charlotte, Warrant, Bring Me The Horizon, My Chemical Romance, Sevendust, New Found Glory, Deftones, Poison, VH-1 "Band On the Run" Flickerstick, an endless list of unsigned locals, and so many others. These days, she can usually be found hiking aimlessly through the woods in her favorite Technicolor sneakers with a Nikon in hand and her rescue dog, Molly, who is a bit hare-brained.

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