Living as the brain child of former Attack Attack! guitarist Caleb Shomo, Beartooth quickly transitioned from a 2012 side project into a modern metalcore powerhouse. Disease caps off the bands third studio album, a natural progression from earlier works that attempts to marry the more raw metalcore of previous efforts Sick/Disgusting and the poppier sensibilities of 2016's Aggressive that often deals very frankly with frontman Caleb Shomo’s personal experiences of life and mental health.
Opener ‘Greatness or Death’ is a mission statement if there ever was one; with Caleb’s bellows of “ready for greatness or death” and the rawness that characterised their first releases being particularly prevalent. This quickly gives way on tracks like ‘You Never Know’ that, while featuring the same crunchy guitar tone that lends heaviness to the sound, also carry far poppier choruses that are virtually guaranteed to be massive live.
‘Bad Listener’ is the records coup de grace, with a spoken intro and a vicious beatdown toward the two minute mark of the song and it’s a short, sharp gut punch that features the better-than-it-should-be line of “I’m not deaf, just a real bad listener”. Following song ‘Afterall’ moves almost immediately into something of a pop-punk vibe and is strongly reminiscent of a B-side by genre stalwarts A Day To Remember, featuring the same stadium-sized melodic choruses they’ve become known for, as does later track and somewhat slower number ‘Believe’. Beartooth clearly still know how to bring the heavy though; late highlight ‘Used and Abused’ features Caleb spitting vitriol and a far more hardcore vibe before switching into a more melodic chorus.
Disease is very much an album crafted with the live setting in mind, with songs often hopping between furious riffing and Caleb's melodic intimacy. Where Beartooth shine on this record though is in crafting short, punchy songs that can pull off this back and forth with ease, and Disease rattles by at a breakneck pace despite the occasional more mid-paced song such as closer ‘Clever’ and there’s not a song that even makes the four-minute mark.
This record is undoubtedly an incredibly personal and honest record, even if musically it plays it far safer than their earlier releases which lends emotional heft to the album, making each song stick when they might otherwise be less memorable. The band and Caleb especially show no signs of slowing down and while not as heavy as Sick or Disgusting the emotional rawness and melodic nature makes Disease an incredibly enjoyable listen.