Beartooth's The Surface is a sharp, poignant and blazingly cathartic celebration of life, warts and all

Beartooth leader Caleb Shomo has produced a burst of glowing metalcore grappling with his turbulent journey to self-love

Beartooth in 2023
(Image: © Jimmy Fontaine)

You can trust Louder Our experienced team has worked for some of the biggest brands in music. From testing headphones to reviewing albums, our experts aim to create reviews you can trust. Find out more about how we review.

Nearly a decade on from Beartooth’s 2014 debut, Disgusting, and the mindset of that album couldn’t be further from frontman Caleb Shomo’s thoughts. A more mature venture than those early days of lyrical self-flagellation, The Surface is his most balanced outing to date – a burst of glowing metalcore grappling with his turbulent journey to self-love. As the opening title track howls, ‘might have pushed it to the limit – but I’m not dead yet!’

From the off, The Surface is thrumming with life. Soaring instrumentals glimmer with unbridled joy, while beefy breakdowns serve as a defibrillating jolt, grounding you in the moment. What Are You Waiting For is perhaps the finest example of this – a soaring, moshpit-bait call-to-arms that urges listeners to overcome hardships and seize the day.

However, amid the positive affirmations, The Surface does make a point of balancing out euphoria and realism. While tunes such as Riptide and Might Love Myself bounce about and float in a cloud of effervescence, this album refuses to indulge in false positivity. Beartooth’s signature grizzly hardcore and heavy metal grit rears its head as a reality check - the SAD anthem Sunshine! contrasts soaring acoustics with snarling vitriol, while What’s Killing You’s howl of ‘Life’s not fair!’ is spine-tinglingly raw.

The push and pull between positivity and pain is a welcome twist on metalcore’s tendency to dwell on inner demons. Instead, it’s forgiving of darker moments, earnestly exploring the struggles that come with mental illness. Look The Other Way shows this best. Entirely stripped back, Caleb is exposed, ‘picking up the pieces’ of himself. He sheds his bandana-donning bravado, allowing a glimpse at the slow, painful process he’s undergone/still undergoing to reach this point of self-belief. As a whole, The Surface is a sharp, poignant and blazingly cathartic celebration of life, warts and all.

The Surface is out this Friday, October 13 via Red Bull Records

Emily Swingle

Full-time freelancer, part-time music festival gremlin, Emily first cut her journalistic teeth when she

co-founded Bittersweet Press in 2019. After asserting herself as a home-grown, emo-loving, nu-metal

apologist, Clash Magazine would eventually invite Emily to join their Editorial team in 2022. In the

following year, she would pen her first piece for Metal Hammer - unfortunately for the team, Emily

has since become a regular fixture. When she’s not blasting metal for Hammer, she also scribbles for

Rock Sound, Why Now and Guitar and more.