New Hampshire / Massachusetts based Youth Funeral’s debut full-length Heavenward begins as one hopes it would, with a chaotic burst of energy that offers an immediate sense of what their bleak brand of fast-paced hardcore is all about: blasting drums, rumbling bass, and octave based guitar leads towered over by vocalist Casey Nealon’s gruff rhythmic yell.
While this is all well and good, what marks Heavenward as a major step forward for the group comes in their ability to work outside the confines of aggressive music. Youth Funeral shows their versatility in tracks like “Only In Sleep Safe” which begins with a whirlwind of pick slides and punk beats that could lead into a straight ahead song yet takes the listener in another direction entirely, lolling lazily into a sliding guitar lead over a fuzzed out two-chord progression. While the hopeless feeling that dominates the beginning of the record remains, Youth Funeral presents the raw emotion found earlier in a new form that brings a welcome change of dynamic and pace. “Shadow Phases” similarly finds the band working outside of their comfort zone by adding an off-kilter groove in the middle of the song that makes the plummeting conclusion all the more poignant. While Heavenward at times captures the feedback driven aggression of modern acts like Loma Prieta and Lord Snow, Youth Funeral sets itself apart from current trends in hardcore by writing unpredictable, jarring music that fearlessly defies expectations of both genre and form.
While some of the more dynamic songs show an active attempt to move away from their more dissonant spastic sound, tracks like “Unthought” and “Armors” remind the listener that Youth Funeral are still proficient when it comes to writing on-point, driving hardcore music. With Heavenward, Youth Funeral embraces its roots as an east coast hardcore act while making a conscious effort to move away from the tropes of simply structured aggressive music for a more engaging listen.
"[Only In Sleep Safe] marks the band's conscious (and successful) effort to translate sleep-deprived paranoia into hand-wringing hardcore." - CLRVYNT
"We were really taken with this band when we first discovered them and Heavenward has caused us to fall head over heels in love; it’s beautiful, in the most raw and passionate way. Listening to this album makes you hurt in all the best possible places." - Nerdist
released December 9, 2016
Casey Nealon, guitar and vocals
Spencer Benson, bass and vocals
Mike Ralston, drums
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Will Killingsworth at Dead Air Studios in October 2015.
Artwork by Casey Nealon.
Released by Skeletal Lightning / Dog Knights Productions