When House Vs Hurricane seemingly exited the Australian heavy music scene, back in 2013, they did so at the top of their game. Although 2012’s “Crooked Teeth” never quite achieved “classic” status, the chemistry shown on that record between then-new vocalist Dan Casey and the rest of the band made it one of the most vital and accomplished records to ever come out of their particular, squeaky clean, metallic hardcore niche.
As its title might suggest, comeback record “Filth” is a far grittier affair—trading in the upbeat anthems of A Day To Remember for the driving force of Every Time I Die when it comes to identifying the record’s closest comparison. “Filth” was primarily written in the band’s absentia by guitarist Christopher Shaw, and it shows. The guitar parts are far more complex and intense here than they have been before, and it is their chaotic charge that leads the pack this time around.
Yet while Shaw and Ryan McLerie’s six-string assault sees a considerable step up for House Vs Hurricane, the rest of the band, and even the rest of the compositions themselves, often seem to be struggling to keep pace. Casey tries his best at pulling off a Keith Buckley-esque couplet with the lines “I’m living inside a bubble, no experience or trouble,” from lead single Give It Up, and, in this initial instance, it would seem he might have even pulled it off. However, from there the track devolves into senseless repetition of the line, to diminishing returns. From there, the track trades in its ferocious beginnings for a more conventional and restrained approach, and this spoiled promise is also, unfortunately, largely representative of the record as a whole.
Whereas on “Crooked Teeth” McLerie’s clean vocals allowed already lofty arrangements to truly soar, here—while they don’t necessarily detract from proceedings—they often, unwelcomely, deviate from their far more potent heavier surroundings. Likewise, the type of reductive, stilted breakdowns employed to such great effect on that previous release carry far less impact here—often making for the “softest” sections of their respective compositions, rather than providing them with extra bulk, as desired. As the album progresses, there also comes to be an occurrence reliance on trite, vocal shout outs. Greasepaint erupts from its starting blocks with a catchcry of “fake is now a fashion,” while Pillowtalk berates their completion for being “nothing but a sellout”—bringing to mind the worst aspects of Of Mice And Men in the process.
These instances are largely far-between and certainly represent a minority amidst “Filth”s otherwise stellar content. However, it is these jarring moments that stick out the most, and which ultimately come to play a much larger role in defining the record than they perhaps should. The musical growth shown here is outstanding, and the heavier direction hinted at on this album renders House Vs Hurricane’s return only all the more promising. It’s just a shame that they didn’t quite break completely free of their comfort zone this time around.