I was a big fan of Mouth of the South’s Struggle Well. It was a record I didn’t expect to like, but was actually quite fond of. So I was curious as to what type of shift in sound would come when the band changed their name to Rival Choir.
The sound on I Believe is both very similar and markedly different. It’s a shift you have to be a fan of heavy music to hear. I can hear the style the Rival Choir is going for. The “ambient” or raw emotional side of hardcore. Bands like The Overseer, Hands, and Underoath (their last 2 records). You can hear that sound coming through in the music. And Hands might be the closest comparison. But Rival Choir is still a heavier band than all the previous mentioned acts.
I personally found this record to be quite enjoyable, although ultimately a little forgettable. There was nothing that grabbed me and made say wow. No songs that took me by surprise or hook that got stuck in my head.
The album’s opener, Poured Out, is heavy and fast while adding this great melodic section. The breakdown reminds me of what I loved so much about Hand’s Creator. And that might be the highest compliment I can pay this record. At many moments it reminds me of that record. Garrett Metzger’s drumming feels a lot like Aaron Gillespie’s drumming on Underoath’s “Lost In the Sound of Separation.” Josiah Lyle’s balances screaming and a more emotional yelling on songs like Beggar that feel very similar to Cory Brandon’s work on Norma Jean’s “Redeemer” and “Anti-mother” records. Quiet Life has an excellent melodic vibe that sounds like a heavier version of The Overseer.
And I think that’s where this record falls short for me. I love the songs and the vibe of this record. But it reminds me of a lot of bands I already like. Which is fine, except is doesn’t make I Believe stand out on its own. It’s the small difference between a really good record and an album of the year contender. I like Rival Choir and I think this is a really good record! I will probably listen to it often. But I like I said, there’s no “wow” moment. It’s a good record. But it’s just missing something that would make it special. 4 out of 5 Stars.