Could the MySpace era of metalcore be making a comeback? Time will tell, but New Jersey band Plead the Widow’s Cause doesn’t seem to care about trends, because that throwback sound can be found in spades on their debut album Pain Split.
Filled with equal parts melody and hardcore drive, Pain Split is an album that is easy to listen to, but it still packs a punch that won’t soon be forgotten. Carrying a cross-section of hardcore, easycore and punk, the sound comes across as nostalgic while also recent. The bouncy rhythms are punctuated by classic metalcore breakdowns and hardcore/gang vocals. This blend is done very well, and the balance between these divergent sounds is kept in tight control.
Pain Split handily tackles themes of justice for the voiceless, the desire to become a better person, death, longing for restoration, hypocritical faith, the pull of addiction, mental health, and an awareness of one’s shortcomings. While each theme stands on its own, what ties them all together is the sense within each song that there is a higher hope to cling to and strive for. Even in the bleakest moments on the album, there is always a tinge of that hope, whether the implications of that hope are realized or not. It is a realistic depiction of how many people walk in their faith with God: there’s an awareness that he is always there, but how often he is acknowledged or held to is the wrinkle in most stories.
While each track holds reflections of the hope of God, perhaps the most obvious is “True Love.” Lyrically, this song feels as if it pulls directly on the Psalms, particularly Psalm 8:4: “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” There’s also a hint of Psalm 22: “But I am a worm and not a man.” With the honesty they’ve displayed throughout the album, the blunt question that is asked in this track is: “How can You bear the sight of me when I disgust myself? How do I compare to Him?” The hope, and answer, to that honest question, is: “With Your perfect strength, carry me. I’m waiting just for You; open my hands, let me receive.” That refrain echoes Psalm 6:2: “Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint; heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony.”
The title track explores living life while ignoring God. As voiced in the track, the result is functional atheism that leaves the narrator unfulfilled. Fortunately, return and restoration is possible: “All my evil actions, and every evil thought, are taken down and hold nothing now. My soul has been bought.” With an admittance of living by their own will, having been bought, they are still welcomed in: “I’ll enter in with one eye, but with a heart that’s new. I’ll enter in with one hand; hack it off and let me, let me get to You.” It is a stark way to present total surrender. It’s as if they’re saying, “If it takes removing parts of me to be with you, so be it.”
Plead the Widow’s Cause has put together an album full of fresh sounds that somehow feel nostalgic at the same time, filled with honesty. Even when that honesty is painful and challenging to listen to, they deliver it with such conviction that it is difficult to not lean into it. It will be interesting to see if this outing gains the traction it deserves. In a scene chock-full of similar sounds, it is refreshing to hear something that stands out so distinctly.
Be sure to be following them on Facebook, bandcamp, and Instagram. Then, plug in your best headphones, or connect to your favorite speakers, and give them a listen. All their platforms can be found here.
For fans of As Cities Burn, Blindside, Close Your Eyes, and Showbread