April 30, 2021 Tetrarch – Unstable (Album Review)
Waving the flag of Nu Metalcore, Tetrarch made their self-released debut back in 2017. Four years later, and now signed to Napalm Records, the quartet ups their game with their sophomore disc, Unstable, which arrives Friday, April 30, 2021.
Formed around 2007 in Atlanta, the quartet—Vocalist/Guitarist Josh Fore, Lead Guitarist Diamond Rowe, Bassist Ryan Lerner, and Drummer Ruben Limas—has come to call Los Angeles home. Initially, they placed themselves onto the map with 2008’s Pravda EP, before going on to author two more EPs, 2011’s The Will To Fight and 2013’s Relentless. With proof of their skills put to record, they took to the road to share stages with everyone from Avenged Sevenfold to Alter Bridge, before recording their self-released, full-length debut, Freak.
Now, with several years of tiresome touring underneath their collective belt, the unit is tighter than ever. This is abundantly clear throughout Unstable, which mark’s the band’s label debut. And their 10-song sophomore offering wastes not a second of your time, kicking off with the crushing “I’m Not Right,” a face-to-face confrontation with self-doubt and self-hatred. Fore’s howls are incendiary as he and his bandmates embrace their 1990’s Nu Metal influences. In fact, the same can be said for the bulk of Unstable, particularly the radio-ready single “You Never Listen.” Combining all the elements of its brothers and sisters, the catchy track serves the perfect representation of Tetrarch 2.0.
In fact, many of the same sentiments will be echoed for nearly the entirety of the album, like on steamroller-coaster “Negative Noise,” anti-bullying anthem “Sick of You,” and the plea for help that is “Stitch Me Up.” Meanwhile, there’s a twisted pride to the proclamations made in the sludgy “Unstable.” There’s something decidedly unwell lurking beneath the surface of its lyrics, but this monstrosity finds its counterbalance in “Take A Look Inside.” With brutally frustrated verses and soaring choruses, the quartet changes their approach momentarily as they communicate a haunting reminder that no one can save you but yourself.
Again, this emotional transparency and raw vulnerability is not something that is unique to any one song. Much like a diary of sadness, Unstable is careful to keep its lyrical content in the spotlight as it flip-flops between the band’s KoЯn and Slipknot influences, oftentimes combining both inside the walls of one track. And it’s little surprise that amid all of this melancholia and angst, guitar goddess Rowe is often given carte blanche, providing blazing solos amid the rabid thirst of “Addicted,” short but infectious “Pushed Down,” and more. And when they flip the script to play the savior role on the album’s conclusion, “Trust Me,” she even drafts a solo out of pinch harmonics.
If Freak was an exploration into what makes each of us different, and an urge to embrace those eccentricities, then Unstable is its darker sibling. A reflection on struggling with mental health, bullying, relationships and addiction, the record doesn’t hold back with its frank sometimes disturbing admissions. In this, the positivity that could be found in its forebear has been stripped away, leaving behind a gruesome corpse that is teeming with self-loathing, frustration, and an uncensored exploration of emotional reality in 2021.
To deliver this eulogy for emotional suffering, Tetrarch has refined their sound to make it more palatable and pleasing, paving the way for radio domination. However, their influences are still tattooed on their bones in blaring technicolor, and this can make some of the moments throughout Unstable feel a little too reminiscent of one another. And still it is a good album, a collection with a heartfelt message that is apt to speak volumes to their young fanbase. So appreciating that Tetrarch is still in its infancy, and still has plenty of time to mature further, Cryptic Rock gives Unstable 4.5 of 5 stars.