You know, I have to give these guys credit.
Based on the self-proclaimed moniker of being a combination of hip-hop and deathcore, I had somewhat low hopes for this release going in, but on The Great Unknown, Sabretooth shows that there’s something to be said for doing it your way, regardless of what that way may be.
It is not in some intrinsic need to prove themselves as a combination of two genres that motivates Sabretooth to create what they do. They just don’t give a fuck, and they make completely what they want to. Is that going to include singing? Is that going to include pig squeals? Breakdowns, anyone? Prepare for a short, savage trip through the next nearly 20 minutes, my friends.
Since October 24, 2014, Sabretooth has been wreaking aural havoc in Peekskill, NY and refining their musical craft. The band currently consists of Wesley Robinson on vocals, Devon Day on lead guitar, Devon Day on rhythm guitar, Nico Mario Petroccitto on bass duties, and Justin White on drums. The album also features Patrick Hughes as a co-vocalist, though he recently left to pursue personal goals. All in all, this is a pretty cohesive group, with a bountiful supply of ideas which are implemented into their already-solid template of window-smashingly chugging, meat-headed beatdown deathcore.
The origin of the band’s name SHOULD be due to how satisfyingly primal the music is. It is obviously not the flashiest or most technically complex music. The point is, it doesn’t need to be to accomplish its goal.
The Great Unknown Track List:
1. Into The Unknown
2. Collapse (feat. Kevin Lange)
4. Slit Throat Anthem
5. Out Of The Unknown
The Great Unknown wrecks face on so many levels due to the fact that the production makes everything hit you like a cement block in the chest. The guitars are not just glorified basses, and create texture in the music that leaves the hair on your arms standing when it gets into truly heavy business. It is such an instant-gratification kind of deathcore, one which is reminiscent of I Declare War in the sense that it gets right down to the business of being brutal without too much other trimmings. Sabertooth is a lean, mean deathcore machine.
Wesley Robinson’s vocal delivery is strikingly similar to Frankie Palmeri of Emmure or Chris Fronzak of Attila, who both ascribe to something of a hip-hop influence to their deathcore. The beginning of “Slit Throat Anthem” is a good example of how he will start a line in his forceful but clean tone and then swing up into his growls/screams, which is a borderline-trademark of the aforementioned vocalists, and maybe Alex Koelher of Chelsea Grin. He also works his spoken voice into certain parts to get real, especially in the last minute of “Collapse," which adds a surprisingly nice sense of diversity. When the vocals are just rough, it is malevolently powerful in a way that livens up tracks and even the minutia of pig squeals that Robinson implements are done so in a way that punctuates a part with anguish and fervor. This can be heard in “Slackjaw” immediately following the break-beat part that overlays a braggadocio-drenched clean verse about “handling fuck dudes."
The lyrics are iffy with me only because they are simple, and though I’ve already stressed that this band is not out to reinvent the wheel, I will say that the level of simplicity in the lyrics reaches the point where it really doesn’t sound like songs have distinct themes. It boasts of being about more than just hatred and anger, but it really doesn’t get much more in depth than that.
Furthermore, in another instance, the band states that the EP was created “as an outlet of all [their] anger and frustration that [they] have experienced throughout [their] lives”, which seems a little more on the money to me. It straddles two ends of the spectrum in “Collapse” at one point, literally saying “abuse of a substance is not the way to raise your life/ there is more to this world than just you/ you fucking disgust me.” It’s almost a wonder why they even bother, because who is going to buy a message of positivity that is so thickly glazed with traditionally violent and hateful deathcore-themed lyrics? It is somewhat polarizing.
All in all, I enjoy what The Great Unknown means for Sabretooth, and hope that the band delve deeper into every corner of their varied, interesting, and above all pugilistically satisfying sound. I will not deny that this band makes me want to swing my arms in a tightly-packed mosh pit and head bang my neck stiff. It won’t be getting any awards, but for a first release, it is extremely solid, displaying exactly what makes Sabertooth the band it is as well as shedding light on what they could be in the future. Also, shout-outs to their meme-conscious breakdown at the end of the album, which harks back to the early days of deathcore when some of the most brutal songs were preceded by Family Guy samples.
They were easier times, really… Anyway, The Great Unknown gets a solid 7.5/10.