Hot off the heels of last year’s Challenge Oppression // Pursue Equality EP, Cope are back and just as grumpy as last time with Tooth & Nail. Opening with the blistering ‘Stray Bullets’, the band lose no time in introducing their own blend of hardcore, punk and metalcore in the vein of While She Sleeps, shot through with nods to hardcore heavyweights Every Time I Die as well as fellow Brits Feed The Rhino.
If all that sounds like a bit of a melting pot, it is, but rather than being incoherent, Cope manage to channel these occasionally disparate sounds across six weighty tracks in just under twenty minutes, and while the influences are there, it’s never derivative. Driven by socio-economic inequalities, politics and global events, Tooth & Nail is a damning assessment of the state of the world in 2017.
Vocally Cope have a few tricks up their collective sleeve, from punk yelps that have more than a little in common with While She Sleeps, to more guttural screams and employs both well; his snarl, while not utterly unique, fits Cope’s brand of raw aggression well. The band also deploys gang vocals with wild abandon, such as on the gnarly, skate-punk anthem that is title track ‘Tooth & Nail’, along with the bruising ‘Stray Bullets’ and even somewhat clean vocals on ‘Many Faces’, echoing the voices of the disenfranchised against elites of the world. The production is crisp; the guitars are meaty and fuzzy, the bass is clean and audible and the drums sit happily in the middle of the mix to drive the album forward without drowning out the rest.
Tooth & Nail is not a complex affair; it rails against the system and the injustices of the world as well as more recent events such as the US’ recent presidential election and the rise of far-right groups across the world such as on ‘Neo-Nasty’ and ‘Populism’. Closer ‘The Great Divide’ could be a B-side from a WSS record, and is perhaps the only moment the band truly slows down and, while derivative, still stands out for the change of pace. While the songwriting itself doesn’t break any new ground, the band’s execution is enthusiastic enough and rattles along as angrily as it needs to. Expect bigger and better things from Cope - especially if the world keeps going to hell in a handbasket.