Sometimes you can discover a great new band by catching them supporting one you already know. Sometimes it happens by a recommendation from a friend, while others – after countless mediocrity has been passed your way – it can come via a suggestion on Spotify. When Kill The Lycan’s single “Cronus,” off of their forthcoming debut Rhea (pre-order links here, and pre-save from your streaming service of choice!), was thrown my way, the quality of the metalcore on offer from the Austrian five-piece was such that it compelled me to reach out to the band directly to make damn sure a copy of the album reached our reviews inbox. The key question is whether the entire release lives up to the band’s first impressions.
It’s a pleasure, therefore, that following atmospheric opener “Eos,” Rhea offers a throwback to metalcore’s golden era of the mid-2000s right off the bat, with all of the genre’s key hallmarks that keep fans coming back present throughout. Chris Breetzi’s harsh vocals thrust forth with power and diction over each emotive verse whilst Stevo Eberl and Tom Putzi’s guitars intertwine in Gothenburg melodeath harmonic styles, all between knockout riffs hammering home hardcore-influenced beatdowns. That latter point is particularly abundant throughout Rhea: the listener finds many a riff leaving them powerless but to nod along, plus see “Gaia” in particular for grooves that make you want to throw yourself around a pit. There’s plenty of saccharine sweet, tonally perfect cleans too, conveying irresistible hooks to be found in each chorus, and earworms that’ll have you singing along already within your first couple of listens.
‘Let me tell you my story of Joy, Hate, Love, Anger and Glory.’ Experience Kill The Lycan as I first did through “Cronus”:
Rest assured however that Kill The Lycan’s debut release is not solely confined to being appreciated as a nostalgia trip – there’s plenty of nuance and fresh ideas to be found in many of the tracks. The lead riffs over the top of the chorus of “Oceanos” is a particular album highlight, as are the almost djent-esque tones of “Hades,” with additional programming adding to the polish of the group’s overall sound. Production on the (self-released) album hits the sweet spot of having enough sheen to be a pleasant listen whilst retaining its organic qualities and dynamics; some of the quieter moments in tracks really stand out and can give the listener goosebumps as they land with the finesse of an artist far their senior.
Within Rhea, Kill The Lycan’s energy and freshness is both one of its strongest elements and also one of its very brief list of shortfalls. Lyrically, there is some clumsiness here and there – see “You said you would love me forever, but how long is forever?” in “Theia” for possibly the standout example, and “Constantly oppressed, my life is a mess” in “Persephone.” However, which metal bands are completely immune to laying the cheese on a little thick, or going for something snappy which doesn’t quite hit? It’s worth noting as it will be identified by an ardent listener, but it’s hardly an unforgiveable sin, particularly when most of the choruses are truly memorable for the right reasons.
Check out the video for “Theia” for yourself below:
With scene stalwarts showing they’ve crested their peak (see Killswitch Engage and As I Lay Dying’s arguably somewhat average efforts released thus far this year) there’s going to be a hunger amongst fans of metalcore for new material that meets their high standards – and in Kill The Lycan’s Rhea they’ve found it. For me, this is unquestionably the best metalcore album released since Bury Tomorrow’s Black Flame (2018), and one which all genre fans should look into picking up. The music combines the filthiest breakdowns from AILD, Bury Tomorrow’s chorus writing ability, and the unique and undefinable quality Parkway Drive showed on their early releases: coming together for something in Rhea that feels like a true step up from the vast majority of the genre’s most recent releases. Kill The Lycan haven’t just put out a debut that shows they have potential; they’ve released something which demonstrates metalcore near-mastery on a first effort, which is truly special.