Hard riffs, harsh vocals, carefully placed melody, and contentious (but inspiring) lyrics are factors expected from the metalcore formula. They are all accounted for on Becoming Saints’ freshman LP, Oh, the Suffering. At first listen, one may mistake the debut release for another typical (read: predictable) metalcore concoction, made from these ingredients. Yet, as you dive into the depths of the Little Rock-based band’s first full-length album, you realize there is a little more beneath the icing than is readily apparent from its opening moments.
It would be fair to say the majority of the album is true to the metalcore sound, and, consequently, you can find a large number of well-balanced tracks on it. Are there moments of pitchiness in some of the clean vocals? Definitely, but it doesn’t take away from the album as a whole. When it’s surrounded by solid, tried-and-true writing — heard in songs like “Built for War” and the subsequent “Oath” and “Unbroken” — the album can stand on its own, but may not make many waves.
As refreshing as it is to get down with some crisp choruses mixed in with a satisfyingly hardcore sound, the ears crave the rabid frenzy of unrestrained metal, something that could take Oh, the Suffering to the next level. Becoming Saints touches on this tier with tracks like “My Fall Your Gain” and “Lost.” When they add in the rough edges of such hard vocals and ripping guitars, it’s a noted (and appreciated) effort to keep the music fresh. It wards off stale monotony that can come all too easily on an album if it stays in the same lane for its duration. With the inclusion of a beautiful monologue by the great Mother Teresa and a nicely landscaped transitional instrumental, Oh, the Suffering feels complete, a rounded off piece of work. As far as debuts go, it’s a solid album with substance and chops. Does it leave you hungry for more after it wraps? Not necessarily. But it provides a sense of audible and emotional satiety, and that is another kind of accomplishment altogether.