Carlisle, Pennsylvania-based band Promise Breaker released their third LP, entitled Televiolence, on February 20th. For the uninitiated, Promise Breaker’s unmistakable sound features vocalist Tyler Beam’s deep, guttural delivery overtop punishingly heavy guitars and slamming drums. The band discusses topics ranging from society, to insanity, to the obscure in their lyrics. Their debut, self-titled LP released in 2016 and clocked in at 13 minutes across 8 blistering tracks. From there, the band returned the following year with Not Even Once, a record that saw the band experimenting with more atmospheric soundscapes and varied influences, ranging from slam to hardcore to jazz and just about everything in between. By this point, the band have refined their sound to showcase only the most cutting edge, raw heavy music you can find.
That’s what makes Televiolence such a distinct experience. The band has not only rounded out their sound, but actually has gone a step further on this new LP and incorporated even greater experimentation. Tracks like “The Skin”, “Brand New Pain”, and “Eat” could qualify as tracks ripped straight out of the playbook of bands like Korn, Coal Chamber, or System of a Down. Yet, the band is able to maintain that high level of intensity across the entire 14 song, 31 minute LP. Their unrelenting, violent musicianship makes tracks like “Contraption”, “Anesthetic Comedy”, and “Under The Digital Sun” all the more enticing. Their ability to seamlessly transition between those nu-metal inspired sections and downright evil sections of beatdown hardcore make this record truly stand out.
Even more to the point, Televiolence features some of the band’s most terrifying lyricism, like on the song “Fantasies (My Only Exit)”, Beam shouts “Eyes piled waste high/Come alive as they burn/Maybe that’s what they’ve chosen/Watch them wait for their turn.” Or on the disturbingly minimalist song “Thing”, the echoing, unsettling vocals proclaim “Lately I feel like nothing/Keep laughing as I repeat the same thing” invoking a sense of dread in the listener as they’re transported to a situation which is entirely helpless. These moments where it feels like Beam is whispering directly into your ear are the most chilling, and yet where the band is able to make their mark most effectively. Their creation of horrifying soundscapes is what stands out the most about these songs.
It is worth mentioning Beam’s vocal experimentation on this record as well. His standard vocal delivery is far from generic, but he actually goes above and beyond on this record in exploring the various highs and lows (no pun intended) of his vocal range. On some songs, he sounds as if he’s wincing in pain. On others, he is unapologetically shouting at you with full force. This display of vocal prowess is often lost on bands who work within a similar musical frame, and that makes Televiolence so much better for it.
The instrumentation across the entire record is consistent, both when it ventures into the more progressive, atmospheric sections and the gut-punching heavy sections. The guitar work, provided by Beam and Justin Turnbaugh, shows impressive shredding and an array of different tones, while Ryan Boyle’s bass playing holds down the lowest of lows in the mix–yet still a formidable piece of the instrumental puzzle. Not to be outdone, Jake Lepley’s absolute killer drumming–featuring everything from blast beats, to punk beats, to the more complex, progressive patterns–holds everything together here. This band is not your standard “chug, chug, slam” band, they’re real musicians whose dedication and talent is palpable across every single song.
Televiolence is a work of mastery from a band that has been methodical and calculated in their approach to writing their music. The band’s thoroughly DIY approach–they handle everything from writing, recording, mixing/mastering, and the artwork–goes the extra mile in rounding out their already impressive credentials. It will rival any heavy album you listen to, or at least won’t go down without a fight. Only a handful of records like this one come along in a lifetime…don’t miss this one.
Check out: “Contraption”, “Under The Digital Sun”, “Brand New Pain”
FFO: Nails, Korn, Kublai Khan
Author: Carl Schulz