Counterparts- The Difference Between Hell and Home

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Friday, July 12, 2013

Melodic hardcore is one of those genres that has been packed with bands in recent years, as more and more acts try their hand at the blending of melodic leads and emotional vocals. Due to the surge of bands, it has become harder to stand out but I’ve still found albums every now and then that have what it takes. One of my recent finds is The Difference Between Hell and Home, the third album from Canada’s Counterparts. This was my first time coming across these guys and my initial impression was a positive one, as they have the familiar urgency and soaring leads of melodic hardcore with the occasional heavier section that has a metalcore feel.

Counterparts starts their album off in a familiar fashion, launching right into the energetic melodic leads that this type of music is known for. The instrumentalists do it well, and the riffs maintain strong hooks even as they fly by at a fast and furious pace. But The Difference Between Hell and Home doesn’t spend all of its time on melodically oriented riffs, transitioning into much heavier ideas starting on the third track “Debris.” Here the guitar tone gets a bit deeper and there is some crunchier riffing and even a little bit of chugging that has a metalcore vibe. This heavier side is taken the furthest towards the end of the album on “Slave”, which is a two minute track that has the aggressive wall of sound and shifts to mid-tempo chugs that are common with that style. Melodic hardcore and metalcore may be different in tonality but both share the same type of energy and intensity, which makes it easy for Counterparts to transition between the two sounds. While there are plenty of groups out there playing both of these styles, these guys are able to make them their own and offer strong riffs that come in fast and don’t waste time on extended breakdowns or other repetitive sections. That’s not to say there aren’t breakdowns at all on the heavier sections, but they aren’t dragged out for nearly as long when compared to the average band of this type.

The vocals on this album skew towards the harsher side, offering the usual balance of higher throat tearing screams and slightly lower pitches. It’s a style that remains perfectly suited for this type of material, and Counterparts’ lead vocalist offers a performance that is consistently intense and varies just enough in pitch to avoid becoming grating. On a few of the tracks clean singing is added into the mix which fits the soaring leads, but they aren’t a prominent element and the focus is always given back to the harsher pitches. The Difference Between Hell and Home has been mixed in a way that allows the screams to get right in your face, but they don’t completely overpower the instrumentals and there remains a nice balance between the two elements for the entire release.

I was pleasantly surprised with what this release had to offer, as melodic hardcore and metalcore are both genres where bands often have a good deal of style but not enough substance to back it up. Counterparts is able to move between the two genres while providing strong hooks that will make you want to come back for another listen. The balance between extremely heavy sections and soaring melodic leads seems to have helped this band to find their niche, and if you like either of these styles The Difference Between Hell and Home is worth checking out.

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