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  • Aggressive, the follow-up to 2014's debut LP, Disgusting, lives up to its name with a 12-song collection of raw, melodic post-hardcore from Ohio band Beartooth. Along with producer John Feldmann (blink-182, the Used, Papa Roach), frontman Caleb Shomo wrote, performed, and produced the entire effort, with additional assistance from bandmates Taylor Lumley, Kamron Bradbury, and Oshie Bichar. One of Shomo's main strengths has always been his knack for melody -- heard elsewhere on his work with contemporaries like Hands Like Houses, Crossfaith, and Escape the Fate -- which nicely balances the tension and fury on Aggressive, especially on driving tracks like "However You Want It Said" and "Rock Is Dead." Elsewhere, downer titles like "Hated," "Loser," "Burnout," and "Sick of Me" make much of the album appear sour and bitter. Indeed, the lyrical attacks are effective as self-deprecating indictments, but they're also verbal missiles for lashing out against external forces. Shomo screams his way through the bleakness on these outsider anthems, providing cathartic release and visceral sonic therapy ("Sick of Me" is one standout). Life is tough, but with ragers that proclaim "I was born just a little bit different" and "I am not your scapegoat anymore," Beartooth empowers its listeners more than it drags them down. ~ Neil Z. Yeung
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