Feed Her to the Sharks 01Sharks leapt right into the cultural zeitgeist recently, with Katy Perry’s cartilaginous companions helping turn the Superbowl halftime show into something out of Dorah the Explorer’s Beachside Acid Trip. It’s perfect timing for Australia’s Feed Her to the Sharks to release third album (and Victory Records debut) Fortitude. ‘Wait!’ you say. ‘Another review of a melodic metalcore band with a terrible name that references eating human females?’ Yes, but this time… it’s personal. A confession: I once had a huge love affair with metalcore. In high school, after months listening to mid-00s alt-grunge left me with nothing but faded HIM t-shirts and teenage ennui, metalcore reached out her black nail-polished hands and coaxed me in with her big, smooth choruses, all while exposing me to heavy metal’s seedy underworld via tooth-cracking breakdowns and razor-sharp melodeath riffs. While we eventually bid our farewells after I met the chain-smoking, leather-clad dame called death metal, metalcore still holds a special place in my heart. Like all old flames, at some point you’ll reconnect, and sometimes that connection sparks an excitement you forgot existed in the first place.

For me, that happened in 2012 when I discovered Sharks’ debut, The Beauty of Falling, and later their sophomore release, 2013’s Savage Seas. Fortitude continues right where Seas left off, using the same sweetly addictive formula: speedy, saccharine guitar melodies dunked in a glaze of electronic orchestration and digital beats, catchy Autotuned choruses, crash-cymbal riddled drumming sprinkled with occasional blastbeats, and chugging rock-candy chords crystallizing the whole Neapolitan medley into something still harsh enough to cut the roof of your mouth. Sound terrible? Well fortunately, Sharks have always maintained both an endearing playfulness and a hint of self-awareness that keeps me from rolling my eyes (you can’t name a song “My Bleeding Heart Swims in a Sea of Darkness” without tongue firmly planted in cheek). Simply put, they keep things fun.

Opener “The World is Yours” showcases this outright, blasting in with a harmonized In Flames riff and synthetic orchestration before dousing things in jumpy melodeath guitars, then crescendoing in a clean chorus that I’ll probably be singing to my steering wheel for the next few weeks. The catchy refrain/earcandy riff combination shows Sharks at their finest, and Fortitude offers plenty of this. See “Chasing Glory,” with its beatdown rhythm encapsulated by a massive, stomping lead, “Faithless,” with a guitar line Mors Principium Est would envy, closer “Let Go,” with its ‘I’m-leaving-you-forever’ grand finale chorus, and especially “Heart of Stone,” coasting on a titanic melodic groove that conjures images of a fifty-foot warthog rampaging down Sesame Street.

In all, vocalist Andrew Vanderzalm deserves special mention for delivering both the spittle-flinging, high-register screams and the smooth, melodic vocal hooks. Whether wailing about self empowerment (“Chasing Glory”), self degeneration (“Shadow of Myself”), or self-empowered degenerates (“Badass”), Andrew fosters a dynamic liveliness that’s further supplemented by inspired songwriting. See the 80s-style bridge with background chants of “Hey! Hey! Hey!” in aforementioned “Heart,” the occasional solos that flare up with simple glam-rock catchiness, or the squealing hair metal lead that closes “Badass.”

Feed Her to the Sharks 02

Of course, we leave old loves behind for a reason, and once the excitement of reconnecting fades, the bad breath and warts start revealing themselves. Here, those take the form of ‘hip’ moments like the atrocious Emmure-style rap-rock intro in “Chasing Glory.” Additionally, the obnoxious electronic beats tossed into seemingly every musical transition, while adding playful ridiculousness, are overdone, and the excessive chugs and breakdowns feel more like a songwriting crutch than an injection of brutality. “Burn the Traitor” is particularly guilty, leaning heavily on dull twinkling keyboards and meathead rhythms. Along with some later songs (“Badass” and “Walking on Glass”), “Traitor” drags Fortitude down with its mediocrity. Adding insult to injury, the choruses begin sounding similar near the end, and the production is heavily squashed – but as a plus, the blunt mix usually muddles the electronics and makes them easier to ignore.

Is it flawed? Yes. Embarrassingly over-the-top at times? Sure. But while I won’t be trading my Death records for a Buried in Verona hoodie anytime soon, I can’t deny this is a fun and energetic record that seems to offer a knowing wink amidst all the tropes. Purists may find it tough to stomach, but those who can choke down some unabashed modern metalcore like Beyond the Shore or Parkway Drive may be in for a treat. If nothing else, Left Shark approves [Dorah the Explore does acid? Steel Druhm].

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Victory Records
Website: Facebook.com/FeedHertotheSharks
Release Dates: Out Worldwide: 02.10.2015

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  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Metalcore is not quite dead. As much as I am not a big metalcore fan anymore, Unearth’s latest was a blast. While I wouldn’t jam out to this album, it definitely hearkens back to old school metalcore in certain aspects which is great. AILD and KSE were my entry to the metal scene (hopefully I am not the only one) and as much as different genres have taken my interests, metalcore is an awesome thing when done correctly. I feel like all the kvlt and dj0nt is taking over (not that either are bad, just a heck of a lot of clones out there). A little room here and there for the metalcore classics wouldn’t be too bad I don’t think

    • brutal_sushi

      The bands that are doing “Djent” right are so fucking good. Uneven Structure being the one that takes the cake.

    • Mark Z

      I agree. One of the things I like most about this is the lack of djent elements. This sounds like it could have come out in 2006/07.

    • kaeru92

      I totally agree with both your and the reviewer’s comment about metalcore. It was also the genre that I used to listen to when I started enjoying metal (AILD and KSE, among others). And while it is true that many modern band tend to go the easy, very formulaic way, there is still some good music out there to be found.

      I feel like many bands are disregarded simply because they are under the ‘metalcore’ (or djent these days) etiquette.

  • El_Cuervo

    This really reminds me of Parkway Drive

    • brutal_sushi

      Parkway Drive is so much fun to listen too. Super catchy with those all-too-guilty-but-fun-as-fuck breakdowns.

      • Mark Z

        So glad I’m not the only one who can admit to enjoying some Parkway Drive now and then.

        • El_Cuervo

          Horizons is a brilliant song

  • Alexandre Barata

    I enjoyed some Metalcore myself. I got into it with a cd from a now-extint portuguese rock magazine, and it was a blast. But it never stuck with me, and nowadays I ran away from metalcore as much as from a new release from Soilwork (I just hate that overproduced melodeath sooooo much!!!).

    This said, the album isn’t unpleasent, and it really has so much melodeath in there (that infamous Soundtrack to your Escape by In Flames comes to mind sometimes, but is mostly Soilwork). Wouldn’t listen to it from my free will, but is better than most stuff kids are listening to nowadays,

    • Thatguy

      Kids nowadays…..
      Mate, listen to yourself

      And Soilwork are great

      • Alexandre Barata

        Yep I believe that only kids like the punch from Deathcore or that thing called Djent… As I believe only kids liked Nu-Metal back in the end of 90’s (I was one of them).

        Soilwork are great for you, I never said my opinion is universal, iirc.

  • Feeblejocks

    As much as I have a huge secret enjoyment for many much maligned bands (e.g., Job for a Cowboy, Slipknot, Avenged Sevenfold, even [hope no one reads this] Amaranthe), I have never found a good entry point into metalcore. Listening to this sample song, I think I can articulate why. I’m only a lukewarm fan of melodic death metal, and while I like some songs from Slaughter of the Soul, I really only need one or two songs with those riffs to be happy. So when a genre only really offers that plus autotune, more boring drum patterns, and more modern production, I’m simply not interested. So, the upshot is that when someone says that something is ‘metalcore’, my response isn’t to automatically think ‘well, this is gonna suck’, but more ‘I don’t really need to hear this’.
    Which is not to say that I would malign people who enjoy the genre, since I love funeral doom metal, a genre that almost anyone would find far more uninteresting than metalcore.
    But anyway, good review here. I really like the image of dame death metal. I would probably give this a 2.0, but seeing as the highest a metalcore album could realistically hope to get from me would be a 2.5, it’s not really that bad.

    • Thatguy

      Good comment

      I can’t come at Slipknot – and for a very long time resisted listening to Job for a Cowboy because of the damn stupid name – but their latest album is actually very good

  • Matthew

    Sounds a lot like IKTPQ, cool stuff.

  • El_Cuervo

    A week later, I’m still hooked on this. Goddamned metalcore… “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”