Tooth & Nail EP
Returning just over a year after their impressive debut, London metallic hardcore troupe are back and a bit angrier than they were back then. COPE is a sneaky acronym for “challenge oppression, pursue equality”, and that motto still rings true on Tooth & Nail; however, it’s clear that a few (rather terrible) things have happened since last October. The Syrian War, actual Nazis in America, and Brexit certainly fuel Tooth & Nail, yet they don’t define the record as a whole. COPE’s message of empowerment, togetherness, and hope still rings true, and is most forthright in the title track and triumphant closer “The Great Divide”. COPE distance themselves from most political heavy bands by not wallowing in the negative; there’s always something to fight for and a reason to keep pursuing equality and justice. Given all the disorienting frustration happening at the moment, that rose-colored view is quite welcome, and it makes these massive songs feel even bigger than they actually are.
All of this progressive pomp would be for nothing if the songs were shit. Thankfully, that’s not the case, though it’s clear that, just like the thematic angle, the music has shifted a little bit. COPE still play a heavy strain of metallic hardcore that takes influence from While She Sleeps, Comeback Kid, and The Bronx, but, and I may be on an island here, I’m most reminded of the early Atreyu releases while enjoying Tooth & Nail. Vocalist Tom Walker sounds a good bit like Alex Varkatzas, and the production and metallic punk energy remind me of Atreyu before they discovered In Flames riffs. What does that mean from a musical perspective? COPE’s second EP is just as heavy and hopeful as its messages. Riffs, melodies, and breakdowns are punchy and impressive, and while the group aren’t reinventing the wheel, it’s impossible not to bang along to these heady jams.
As it stands, COPE are offering something important: positive, open-minded metalcore that aims to bring people together, presumably so they can beat each other up in the pit (but that’s how it goes, eh?). On that aim, Tooth & Nail hits a bulls-eye, as it’s a brilliant and energetic bit of sonic joy.