It’s no secret that metalcore tends to be a very serious genre. With lyrical tropes surrounding mental health issues and grief, It’s a genre that provides catharsis for many. Even its most watered-down and mainstream contemporaries have made an impact on their fans who are struggling with these topics. There is a place for this and it’s made for some truly powerful records, but it can get bleak in an over saturated genre with no alternative.
That’s where AVOID comes in. AVOID is the rare band that begs to ask, “why can’t metalcore be fun?”
And their second full-length album ‘Cult Mentality’ is exactly that: Fun.
AVOID come off as just a bunch of dudes who are loving life. From getting high to playing video games and chugging beer all day, the guys just genuinely love to have fun. Not only is that positive energy incredibly infectious, but it’s impossible to throw on ‘Cult Mentality’ and NOT have a good time.
In addition to poking fun at metalcore’s own stereotypes, ‘Cult Mentality’ hilariously spends its runtime with references to The Killers, Metallica, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, telling “your mom” jokes, and being “Bored”. The album is drenched in layers of irony, and oddly enough, it’s kinda charming.
This carefree attitude is also exuded from the record’s instrumentation. ‘Cult Mentality’ shifts genres with each track, from stadium-ready octane rock (see: “Midnight Six”) to full out The Dillinger Escape Plan-style devastation, (“Finish Line 3: Live on DVD”), the album is an unpredictable listen.
Musically, AVOID aren’t reinventing the wheel, they just make better wheels than most of their contemporaries. Their songs are rarely ever technically impressive, but they’re incredibly well-written. From throwing a saxophone solo in the anthemic arena rock cut “Can’t Take This Away”, to the defiant nu-metal of “My World”, AVOID’s songwriting talent is undeniable. With endlessly replayable choruses that won’t leave your head and unexpected mash-ups that somehow work, ‘Cult Mentality’ is an album that sticks with you and leaves more than just a good first impression.
This isn’t to say ‘Cult Mentality’ doesn’t have serious moments however, actually, it’s quite the opposite. At any given moment, AVOID will go from singing about being high one second to diving into crippling anxiety the next, handling both topics with the perfect balance of carefreeness and seriousness.
This dichotomy is executed perfectly, further emphasized by some of the happiest sounding tracks being the darkest lyrically on the album. “Split (Kill It)” deals with overwhelming panic attacks through catchy four-to-the-floor choruses, while the brutally honest lead single “COWABUNGA” tackles frontman Benny Scholl’s need for escapism during a low point in life.
What perhaps sticks out the most about ‘Cult Mentality’ however, is its authenticity.
AVOID writes whatever they want whenever they want, and that makes the album so much more enjoyable. The aptly-named non-conformity anthem “Whatever” best summarizes their dedication to authenticity. The track calls out the fake, trend-following nature of the music industry and especially in metalcore, but by cramming all of the very tropes they make fun of that very song. It’s a brilliantly-written track with a bitter taste of irony that, in my opinion, serves as the perfect representation of ‘Cult Mentality’ as a whole.
AVOID are dedicated to being authentically themselves on every second of its runtime. It’s the primary reason the album feels so refreshing… it’s fun, because it’s authentically who AVOID are. There’s a confidence in how the band carries themselves… a swagger, if you will… and that confidence goes a long way in making ‘Cult Mentality’ one of the most enjoyable albums of the year.
AVOID’s second full-length studio album ‘Cult Mentality’ is available now via Thriller Records. Watch the official music video for “Whatever” below.