Solid State Records alumni Beloved only spent a few years in the spotlight, but during that short period, they created a single full-length album that has withstood the test of time (as well as the disbandment of its creators). It’s a remarkable glimpse at the building blocks of sound to a widely-followed movement that took the early 2000s by storm. Though many bands stuck around longer and produced more music, Beloved’s 2003 release Failure On remains a poster child for the Screamo genre–and the characteristics that make it such a unique form of rock and roll.
Failure On opens with a bright, warm tone in “Failure On My Lips.” Within seconds, singer Josh Moore and vocalist/drummer Joe Musten establish their powerful sonic chemistry–a sound that will remain the prized jewel of the entire album. This leads into the heavier track “Only Our Faces Hide,” then the more mellow “Rise & Fall.” Both songs, though different in structure, maintain a sound and style that becomes signature throughout all of Failure On.
“Death to Traitors” is the next track, possibly the best to spawn from the project. The brilliance of this song stems from a combination of the unique tempo changes and Josh Moore and Joe Musten’s spellbinding performances. Their ability to carry this band vocally as a duo is largely what makes Failure On such an astounding record, and it’s displayed perfectly in this anthem. The words are empowering and raw, revealing the band members’ belief that there is something in life worth fighting for: “We were born for battle. Without vision, we will die. We were born for battle against the tide of compromise. We were born for battle. Without vision, we will die. There is life in this.”
“Defect From Decay,” “Watching the Lines Blur,” and “Inner Pattern” come next. Though heard in abundance throughout the album, “Inner Pattern” in particular showcases their precise and genius use of melodic guitar. The band hosts three guitar players, which is somewhat unusual. This breeds a full, glistening sheen over each track.
“Aimless Endeavor” is where the album peeks, and this song packs a powerful punch. It’s Josh Moore who really shines here, bringing his all and proving once again that, more than anything, the vocalists of this band are the cornerstones of its sound. The album winds down with “Allure” and “Insult to Injury,” both of which are capable closers to an excellently sculpted piece of art.
There are plenty of other screamo albums that will go down in history as truly exceptional. Though Beloved’s Failure On is often overlooked due to the band’s quick career, it’ strong signature sound is what has solidified it as timeless. In a sea of faces, it may not be the most well-known, but it might just be one of the greatest in composition, delivery, and tone. Beloved fans hope for a day when the band will announce a reunion; in 2016, it was even teased by former members. But until then, everyone treasures the small portion of music they left behind. It may be the only full-length project listeners have from the band, but what better project to cling to than one as masterfully executed as Failure On.