Fremont, OH metalcore act Convictions have released their highly anticipated album I Won’t Survive—and the hype was well justified.
As the album artwork and name might suggest, a theme of death runs throughout the entirety of the work. While that theme is certainly an all-encompassing aspect of the album, the way Convictions approaches it is interesting. Each track presents a new angle with which to look at death: through the lens of PTSD (“The War That Followed Me Home”), suicidal tendencies (“Wreckage”), the pain of being left behind by someone who commits suicide (“The Price of Grace”), suffering at the hands of our own self-destructive tendencies (“Teeth”), the loss of a parent (“Hurricane”), and death from cancer (“Last Cell”). Even the instrumental track “Everything I Never Told You” has a palpable emotional weight to it, and while it is a fitting respite in the midst of the utter chaos that is I Won’t Survive, even this track feels heavy in its own way.
With crushing drumming, blistering guitar riffs and chugs, throat-shredding distorted vocals, and emotionally uplifting clean vocals, this album holds some of the harshest and most brutal instrumentation in all of metalcore. Perhaps Convictions has moved beyond that classification—it certainly feels as though they are making their own way in an, at times, lack-luster scene. Without a doubt, some of the most face-melting moments come in their breakdowns, which are always at an eleven on the Richter Scale. A prime example of this brutality is in the breakdown callout on “Teeth:” “There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth!” It’s an absolutely breathtaking breakdown.
What really drives Convictions as a band is writing from, you guessed it, their convictions. Taking an entire album and looking at various aspects of death could make for an incredibly depressing listen, but they pull it off with hope still to be found. Each track has an obvious call out to God for safety (in “Hurricane:” “God save me from this hell / Lift me up / Give me strength / Be my refuge“) and intervention (in “Wreckage:” “If You love as You say You love, then give me something that’s tangible / If You say You’re always in control, then stop my hand and pull the gun from my throat“).
The lyrics are challenging, and they reflect the reality that many are facing mentally. While they may be uncomfortable to some, Convictions handles such challenging topics with a grace that is matched by their raw willingness to get into the thick of the pain. Consider it the ugly side of faith, where faith and doubt collide. Hurting with hope still hurts, and Convictions doesn’t shy away from the hurt, but rather embraces it and engages it head-on.
While each person will find a particular song to be the most heart-wrenching, a strong contender is “Last Cell.” Written from the perspective of someone who is suffering from cancer, it is an incredibly touching letter to the narrator’s daughter. The melody of the chorus here is one of the best on the album, and the mid-song guitar solo is an amazing treasure that provides chills with every listen. There’s not really a moment on the album where the group is out of sync with one another, but “Last Cell” truly feels like they’re all telling the story in their own way without a single thing out of place.
It’s unlikely that the impact of this album will be short-lived. There are few others on the scene that writes with such visceral honesty and intensity while still holding to so many beautiful melodies. While metalcore is definitely how this group will likely be classified, it’s not an overstatement to say that they are forging a new path that blends elements of metalcore with deathcore, as well as some beatdown thrown into the mix. At 26 minutes in length, this seven track album doesn’t take long to get through, but it lingers in your brain for long after the last note fades.
Similar Artists: Darkness Divided, Earth Groans, Nothing Left, Deathbreaker