There are many things that one will associate with Scotland. Rugged highlands, huge mountain lakes, mythical serpents, deep-fried food, whisky, it's a delightful list. However heavy metal is not necessarily something that will come to people’s mind when talking about Scotland, with perhaps the lone exception of Alestorm. However, Scotland does have its fair share of lesser known metal bands, and some of them are exceptional.
Speaking of exceptional bands, this brings us to Scottish metalcore youngsters From Sorrow to Serenity. Taking their name from the line of a Killswitch Engage song (hats off to you if you didn't need to use Google), they had quite a rocky period leading up to and releasing their debut full-length record Remnant of Humanity back in 2016. Around this time, the original vocalist Fraser Smith departed from the band, and they subsequently recruited Gaz King, formerly of Nexilva fame, an amazing vocalist in his own right. Bringing on a new vocalist is always likely to change the sound of a band, and this case is no exception. Where Fraser Smith had a more raspy hardcore style to his vocals, Gaz is a metal singer through and through, with utterly throat-shredding screams.
This all leads to the bands sophomore effort, Reclaim. Straight off the bat you get a sense that leaving more time to craft this record has worked in the band’s favour, as they have been able to refine and improve their sound in practically every way from their debut record.
The record begins with more of a gradual but sinister build-in, unlike Remnant of Humanity which promptly pummelled listeners with bottom-heavy riffing straight from the get-go. Don’t be mistaken though, opening track 'Denounce' is not a soft track, but the subtle beginning gives the album a much more refined start than their debut. Overall it can be said that this record is a lot more melodic than their debut was, partly down to Gaz King’s very impressive vocal range, which encompasses the aforementioned punishing screams, along with some tastefully placed clean and pitched screaming, drawing similarities to Heart of a Coward, as well as fellow Scottish metalcore fire starters Bleed From Within.
In addition to the vocals, the instrumentation is also noticeably more melodic here than on the bands first record, and it is clear from the material on Reclaim that the band have pooled together a wider variety of influences than ever before. The core of the band’s sound is still very much the same; metalcore with a clear djent influence, but From Sorrow to Serenity have mixed that core sound with other styles of extreme metal. 'We Are Liberty' is perhaps the best example of this, with a more melodic pre-chorus preceding an absolutely brutal chorus bordering on slam metal, and a breakdown with some truly eerie sounding low-end guitars. This latter feature is something that From Sorrow to Serenity have always been good at, which is also demonstrated in the broken augmented chords on the third track, Reclaim.
Lyrically, From Sorrow to Serenity have always had a clearly anti-authority, anti-political message to their music, and that’s no different here. In the current state of affairs it is perhaps the most appropriate time to release an album with this theme in mind, especially songs like 'Supremacy'. Though at times the lyrics can feel a little immature and unpolished, but a lot of the times for the most part the music surrounding the lyricism is so infectiously groovy that this never becomes an issue.
Overall, there is very little to criticise Reclaim for. It builds upon everything that From Sorrow to Serenity established on their debut album, and the vocalist change has done no damage to the extremity of the sound. Gaz’s vocals are excellent, the album is very well produced and the instrumentation is a lot more varied and at times more melodic than it has ever been, and perhaps most importantly, the album flows extremely well from the first song right up to 'Resurgence', which may well be the best song this band has written yet. As long as you can look past the occasional immaturity in the lyrics this is a must-have for any fan of this style of music, and it’s highly likely that you won’t even notice the lyrics whilst you’re headbanging to the infectious grooves that this record is utterly riddled with.