Bound In Fear – Eternal EP Review
Artist: Bound In Fear
EP Name: Eternal
Release Date: 12 March 2020
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Downtempo Deathcore/Beatdown
Label: Unique Leader Records
Vocals – Ben Mason
Guitar – Ben Sutherland
Guitar – Steven Hunt
Bass – Keir Campbell
Drums – Alex Richins
One of the biggest problems plaguing the extreme metal scene is heaviness for the sake of heaviness. Far too often, a band will come out with a debut EP or album and make it so heavy that the only thing you remember about it is how heavy it was because the songs all melt together, becoming one dragged out, long, and exhausting experience.
This is most certainly not the case with up-and-coming UK downtempo deathcore quintet, Bound In Fear. The band first made waves in the underground scene in 2017 with their debut EP, Regicide, and again in 2019 with their debut full-length album, The Hand Of Violence. The latter propelled them into the spotlight of the modern deathcore scene with their uncompromisingly heavy sound, eerie atmosphere, and vocalist Ben Mason’s beastly vocal range that only adds more layers of depth to the band’s music.
Bound In Fear follow up from these two epic releases with their latest EP, Eternal, which drops on 12 March 2021.
The EP starts off with the track ‘Cardinal Sin’, which— in standard Bound In Fear fashion— leads in with an eerie, atmospheric intro, before bombarding your ears with a series of groove-based riffs and bone-crunching breakdowns. Accompanying this are Ben’s filthy brand of guttural lows and monstrous growls that makes it feel like there is a strong gravitational force pulling your entire being down to the deepest depths of the abyss. The song also contains a nice black metal-inspired section that adds to the malevolent and sinister nature of Bound In Fear’s music, and helps in keeping the song fresh and interesting throughout its run time.
The second track, ‘Left To Drown’, continues with this ominous motif. However, what I really enjoyed about this track was the fact that the band experimented with some more bouncy hip hop inspired rhythms in some of the vocal delivery and riffs, while utilizing pinch harmonics to give it a catchy and accessible element— similar to that of bands like Brand Of Sacrifice, albeit more groove-orientated rather than fast and technical. I also loved that the band retained their signature twangy bass guitar sound, and gave it a chance to shine during one of the early riffs. Personally, I am glad that the bass guitar is making a comeback in modern extreme metal after being pushed to the wayside by modern production and newer guitar models.
Moving on to the third track: ‘My Mind, My Prison’. It wastes no time at all with intros. It just jumps right in with Ben opening up his demonic and bestial gutturals, followed by a series of chugging and bouncy riffs that get your head bopping and your heart pumping. Out of all the songs on this EP, this one feels the most like it was written purely for the live moshing experience rather than atmosphere. There’s not much else I can say about this song other than it’s a nice and welcome break from the usual formula— something that the band did on The Hand Of Violence as well.
That all changes with the fourth track, ‘Everblack’, which is by far the crowning jewel of the entire release. This track must have been inspired by Black Tongue’s Nadir— a nod to their downtempo deathcore peers. It contains everything that the previous three songs have, but is written less as a crowd killer, and more as a bleak and haunting story— one about descent into pure, unfiltered, and raw rage. As the song progresses, it builds more and more from each melody that comes before it, and adds a lot more atmospheric synth parts to highlight the fragmented pieces of the protagonist’s mind and revenge-fueled mental hell. Not only that, but the breakdowns are used rather sparingly, so when they hit, they hit hard and in the gut.
Finally, the EP wraps up with the track ‘The Harrowing’, which embodies all the emotions that can be tied to the meaning of its title. It starts off in the usual heavy manner, but, towards the end, experiments with more of a haunting, sad, and melancholic melody, which pulls at the heartstrings as the song fades out.
Ben Mason has stated in many interviews that the band’s music is inspired by things they have experienced growing up— from substance abuse to childhood traumas— and how these circumstances shaped them into the people they are today.
To quote Ben on a statement he made regarding this EP, he said, “In our music, we always try to give an honest experience to show people that they are not alone, but to also help them understand that being angry, sad, upset and confused is okay – not everyone can see what happens behind closed doors. The things that we experience may be ETERNAL, but they can also be beaten.” ‘The Harrowing’ does just that by taking everything from the previous tracks, and then ramping it up to ten— especially on the emotional level. It is heavy. It is filthy. It is even cinematic, and is a true reflection of what mental anguish feels and would sound like.
This EP, while short, really captures what Ben says perfectly and (true to form) manages to condense all these emotions and experiences into pure musical storytelling— something few bands who cover these sorts of themes can do or are willing to do.
The only criticism that can be said about this EP is the fact that the production feels like a major step down from the band’s previous two releases. All the atmospheric, songwriting, and vocal elements are there, but it still feels like something is missing. The drums are barely audible in places, and the heavy bass tone they are known for seems to lack the speaker-destroying punch that The Hand Of Violence and Regicide had. This could be because the band’s bassist, Keir Campbell, has made his return after an absence from previous releases.
While I am unsure as to why Keir chose to mix the EP this way, I can say that it is definitely not something that should detract from checking this EP out. Keir is a wickedly talented songwriter and producer, and he deserves a lot more love and attention than what he is credited for.
The songwriting is on point, if not better and tighter than some of the earlier material, and the lyrical themes hit home on an emotional level. Bound In Fear should be congratulated for branching out and experimenting. It expands upon the elements that they had already incorporated, like the backing synths or the groove-based riffs, and it works in Eternal‘s favour.
Last, but not least, one cannot deny Ben’s incredible vocal performance. Whether he is fronting his band or featuring as a guest, he can make any song brutal with his wide range and style of vocal delivery alone. Ben is simply a force to be reckoned with, and he knocks it out of the park on Eternal. This EP has me excited about Bound In Fear’s future, and I wish them nothing but the best going forward.
When it comes to filthy, destructive, bone-crunching, and atmospheric downtempo deathcore, Bound In Fear has you covered. Go and listen to Eternal now!
Bound In Fear Links:
Left To Drown Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIXvntuiT08
Reviewed by: Rusell Gainsford