If the members of Life of Agony were collecting royalties from every up-and-coming band that draws heavy influence from their brand of melodic alt-metal, they’d probably be Scrooge McDucking into a sea of money right now. Life of Agony were truly masters of their craft, and if the increasingly saturated scene of bands citing them as a major influence is any indication, a fair number of wide-eyed hardcore kids have started to notice this. While this resurgence of cocky, groove-laden hardcore is a welcome break from the still dominant “clean cut mysterious guy upside down cross spooky wooky” style of today, it’s certainly hard to do without (at least in part) appearing to be riding on Keith Caputo’s coat-tails. Thankfully, Arizona’s The Beautiful Ones are one of a handful of bands to get this formula right, and on their debut 6131 Records 7” EP, Birth of Desire, they even add their own personal touch to it.
As opening track “Can’t Stand The Sight Of Me” fades in, The Beautiful Ones proudly display their influences on their sleeves with a relatively standard Life of Agony style riff, almost as if to get any comparisons to that band, Type O Negative, etc. out of the way so the focus can shift to what they bring to the table, and not just what they’re borrowing. A mosh-ready riff before a simple-yet-effective breakdown, with some peppered in atonal noodling, closes out the track. “True To Me” begins with a chest-thumping riff before entering a sung chorus, followed by the title of the song being barked in gang chant form, all typical of this style. However, what The Beautiful Ones do here that’s truly interesting and sets them apart from their peers is their use of genuine sincerity in their lyrics. While fellow Life of Agony/Type O Negative-devotees Twitching Tongues encase their lyrics in vice and venom, when The Beautiful Ones offer a lament like, “You taught me how to love, you were the only thing that’s true to me,” it doesn’t sound like it’s being said only to preface something more hateful. The inclusion of Luis Hernandez’s (of Alpha And Omega fame) guest vocals only exemplify the passion demonstrated on this track.
Then, all of a sudden, “Down” offers a drastically more cynical approach, with lyrics like “I’m sorry, honey, if I break your heart, but this is something that I gotta do” and “I’m this way because of you” sneered and spat over a galloping riff. While this sudden change from almost sublime romanticism to cold rejection may confuse some, it only serves to strengthen The Beautiful Ones’s edge on their competition, which is their ability to demonstrate the bipolar nature of young love and lust without coming across as biased one way or the other. Some hearts were broken in order to create this record, absolutely, but all parties are acknowledged here, and no one is truly right or wrong. There is a great deal of hostility here as well as a great deal of sympathy, and when “You’ve become a slave to love, I’m sorry for what I’ve done” is moaned in an almost ethereal chorus on the title track, it bridges these two perspectives perfectly, opening the door for “Cut Me Out” to offer some closure.
So, are The Beautiful Ones reinventing the wheel here? No, they aren’t, but what they’re doing on Birth of Desire is something that any admirer of heavy music can appreciate: They’re taking a style of music that, as of recent, has been becoming more and more played out, and viewing it from a pretty fresh perspective. By offering some multi-layered lyrics drenched in both sympathy and spitefulness, accompanied by tight musicianship and an eye for detail, The Beautiful Ones have released a solid debut.