Record Label: Sharptone Records
Release Date: 26th March
For Fans Of: Holding Absence, Casey, While She Sleeps
Take a moment before you hit play on the debut album from Stepson, Help Me, Help You, because for eleven tracks you won’t get the opportunity to catch your breath again. The Brisbane punk outfit deliver an unforgiving, relentless and rip-roaring record that isn’t for the faint-hearted. Don’t say you haven’t been warned!
There are different facets to Stepson that are evident throughout this album, a split personality in which the various fragments of their identity have learned to co-exist. The most prominent of these is the full-throttle hardcore roots that are firmly planted in the ground. There’s nothing particularly ground-breaking or revolutionary here, although there’s an infectious abundance of enthusiasm that makes it sound a little fresher than it really is. ‘Run’ and ‘Learning To Let Go’ are bad-ass, gritty tracks that are the musical equivalent of an action star performing their own stunts. Meanwhile, ‘The Entire History of You’ is an emotive and explosive effort that wears its still-beating heart on its sleeve for the world to see.
Help Me, Help You is more than just a heavy-hitting metalcore album, amongst its many layers resides an element of pop-punk. Whilst it’s not unusual for these two genres to be combined, it is an example of it being done well. There’s no shortage of melodic choruses and hooks from Stepson on this record, and they complement the heavier aspects of the release really well. ‘Come With Me’ and ‘The Shift, The Blur’ are just two examples of this blend, with a thrashing tempo and gnarly vocals, but an undertone of pop-punk bubbling beneath the surface. The beautiful ‘Say Something’ marks a dramatic drop in that dynamism, slowing matters down with a gut-wrenching and heart-aching anthem for the phone-torches-in-the-air generation.
Yet another aspect of Stepson’s identity can be found within Help Me, Help You. There is an innovative side that aims to ensure the band don’t simply tread the same old ground, something that some tracks on the album are unfortunately guilty of. However, ‘I Wish’ is a groovy, techno-infused number that simmers away nicely, radiating a positive and modern aura amidst a largely traditional-sounding record. ‘The Dilemma’ somehow combines guitars akin to the intro of TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’ with a metal backdrop, and it’s a bold move that makes for an exciting new musical cocktail on the menu. These two tracks stand out for their boldness and act as a symbol of the full and varied repertoire Stepson are capable of.
Help Me, Help You dares to be different but Stepson fall short of fully committing to such a daring manoeuvre. That’s no slight against what is a very good metalcore album that highlights the potential within the band, however, the signs are there that this debut album could have stood out from the crowd a little more than it ultimately does.
Recommended Track: ‘The Dilemma’