By Greg Maki
If I had to predict the next act in heavy music to ascend to arena/festival headliner status, it just might be the Caleb Shomo-led Beartooth. The Columbus, Ohio-based band has been on a steady upward trajectory over the course of its first three records, earning one of the most dedicated fan bases around. Album number four, “Below,” could be the one that takes it to the next level.
The heaviest Beartooth record to date, “Below” absolutely rips from beginning to end, as if the band is about to burst out of your speakers at any second. The title track, “Fed Up,” “Hell of It” and especially “Dominate” dial the intensity up to new levels. At the same time, the album also presents Beartooth at its catchiest; see the earworm singles “Devastation” and “The Past Is Dead,” as well as “No Return,” “Skin” and “I Won’t Give It Up.” It comes to an end with the menacing instrumental “The Last Riff,” which sounds unlike anything we’ve heard from Beartooth before and leaves the listener with an eerie, unsettling feeling. Add to that deeply personal yet easily relatable lyrics—the album “covers the dark side of dealing with mental strain during the last year,” according to a press release—and all the ingredients are here for a breakthrough of major proportions.
Beartooth fans have known it for years, but there needs to be more widespread recognition of what a colossal talent Shomo is. He’s a true one-man band in the studio. Writing, performing, producing, engineering, mixing and mastering—he doesn’t just do it all, he excels in every area. “Below” is a superb modern metal record and his greatest achievement yet.
Red Bull Records – June 25, 2021