When I put on Struggle Well, the new album from Mouth of the South, I thought it was going to be more of the same. Based on the one song I had heard, I just assumed it’d be entirely composed of “djent” riffs, binary breakdowns and bass drops. Lots and lots of bass drops.
All of those are present on Struggle Well, but it’s how Mouth of the South has integrated them with their diverse sonic palette that makes the album so interesting.
After a few seconds of reverb-soaked, distorted drums, the Arlington, Texas-based band bludgeons you with the non-stop-brutality of “Blind Guides.” Even the more melodic section mid-song still has a powerful grit that doesn’t take from the heaviness of the song.
With standout tracks like “Running Scared,” “Good Intentions” and “Hollow Veins,” it’s clear Mouth of the South doesn’t approach songwriting with the intention of giving the listener breakdown after breakdown; they are concerned with writing songs. Every fill, every mosh, every soaring guitar lead — everything feels intentional. Struggle Well is truly crafted from start to finish. Guitar leads over breakdowns don’t feel like just another layer of darkness or discord. There’s a sense of melody carrying the listener through the darkness of the sound. The drums have a sense of urgency, small bursts of blasting and d-beats, all wrapped in with some very intricate fills.
It makes for a very intricate and exhausting listen, but when the ride is worth it, no one ever regrets going on it.