Everwaiting Serenade - No Harbor

10 songs
36:33 minutes
***** ***


First up, let’s say Happy Birthday to Everwaiting Serenade, a hardcore/metal band from Luxembourg that has been releasing albums and EP for ten years now already. No Harbor is their fourth record, and frankly this time they took a little longer than in the past, considering that their previous EP All Rise came out four years ago.

If you have followed the quintet’s career over the last decade, you will notice that not that much has changed about Everwaiting Serenade, but rather that their initial genre of metalcore has veered off into new directions while they still practise more or less the same genre that they used to in the beginning. Of course there are some little things that are different this time, and added together they actually give a really good impression of the new album.

EWS find the perfect compromise between cutting back on their more experimental side (no rap collaboration to be found this time) while using enough different elements (hardcore, metal, post rock,…) to yield a truly inspiring sound that merges the atmospheric with the brutally aggressive. Also the band has a new drummer, coming from a jazz background, allowing them to play around with some strange rhythms, although EWS never stumble into the self-indulgence of monotonous djent. The album has been recorded in the meanwhile quite popular Ear We Go studio in nearby Belgium and comes with a mighty sound that takes no prisoners.

And now it’s time to go finally start dissecting the album. The two minute instrumental intro My Constant is deceptively atmospheric, hiding the soon to come onslaught of brutal hardcore metal. Blackwater, the first regular track, starts with a very groovy part. The vocals are spewing hatred and anguish. One minute into the song the pace quickens, and that’s what I really come to like about EWS on No Harbor. I read elsewhere that the big catchy choruses are missing, but let’s consider that an advantage. Or would you like this band to slip into the trapping of a sweet and memorable melody, the way so many post hardcore (and what does that genre definition even mean?) are torturing our ears with? EWS rather string together different parts, at times full of groovy rhythms, then moving over to fast moving mosh parts. This may not follow the traditional verse-bridge-chorus structure, but is actually quite progressive, as you never know what to expect next. The vocals are between Julien’s well known screams and harsh spoken vocals, the latter reminding me of later Defdump. Occasional gang shouts might draw parallels to Biohazard, but maybe that’s just my upbringing.

There’s plenty of highlights on the album, like Perseverance for which the band made a video clip, the very fast moving title track, Blanks which feels like a post rock track on overdrive. One might lament the fact that after four years, only eight new songs (plus the intro and really wonderful short instrumental The Flood Face) is not that much new music, but this also works in favour of the band. At thirty-six minutes, No Harbor is by no means a long album, but there are frankly no weak, trite or repetitive moments on it. Especially the concluding suite Of Keepsakes And Carbon Copies shows the guys from a pleasantly intense and atmospheric side.

This all being said, while Everwaiting Serenade haven’t reinvented themselves, they still fine-tuned their sound in order to maintain its freshness. Maybe earlier on in their career the band was still struggling to find itself, but now they finally know where they are heading for, and feel much more secure and interesting than many younger bands. This is a must-have for fans of the band, and a definitive recommendation for every fan of a powerfully performed hardcore/metal hybrid sound.

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