The singer of Norma Jean and the former drummer of Every Time I Die – sounds like the makings of the most berserk hardcore record of the year, right? Well, you would be wrong. With much more in common with Deftones than The Chariot, this is a distinct departure from Cory Brandan and Ryan Leger. Framed in the call-and-response of album bookends The Prestaliis I and II, the barbarous anthemic cry of ‘Burn us, we are the effigy!’ is the first of many arms-open choruses that dominate proceedings. Much more polished and safe than you might expect, the production makes the spacious yet jagged metal expand outward from your speakers, but it has sucked out some of the heart, too. At times feeling sterile, the darkness that permeates through the record doesn’t always feel genuine, like a rulebook is being followed throughout – something you don’t expect or indeed want from such esteemed men of erratic hardcore. Unsurprisingly, the vocal shift Cory puts in places him leagues ahead of most other singers attempting this ‘alt-metal’ style, switching seamlessly between gnarled barks and swooping cleans. Performed live this will surely be a different and rabid beast, but hooks have replaced the honesty. There’s a killer record waiting to be made, though.