No Bragging Rights - Cycles
Record Label: eOne Music
Release Date: October 16, 2012
With their last LP Illuminator, No Bragging Rights was trying to almost precede the sound that bands like Stick to Your Guns and Hundredth are successfully stomping through now. The problem was, No Bragging Rights couldn’t quite take that final step at times to truly set themselves apart from even themselves. However, the band’s newest cut Cycles sounds like Illuminator should have, at least to me. Much more concise and confident in its back-and-forth plan of melodically slathered hardcore and tighter songwriting, Cycles finds No Bragging Rights at arguably their best work without cutting away the things that would attract you to them in the first place.
Ten tracks of tempo-shifting hardcore populate Cycles, as No Bragging Rights tackles some thoughts on inner struggle via relationships, religion and the like. The dynamics of this record are a huge selling point, as the shift from blistering guitars to delicate melodies is plenty cleaner than on previous efforts. The title track is the embodiment of this statement, as a tensioned, yet slower beginning showcases a much stronger batch of clean singing before unfolding into some blistering hardcore anchored by meaty rhythms and worthwhile melodic stringing. Carrying over in tracks like “Appraisals and Omissions” and “The Prequel”, No Bragging Rights do enough to prove they’ve made some pretty confident strides in their mixture of smooth melodies and aggressive tendencies since Illuminator.
But in all fairness, the vocals from Mike Perez might be the band’s biggest step. Sure, it’s been heard before that the guy can sing and scream well enough to push this band, but Cycles might be the best example of what Perez is able to do with his voice. Whether it be the biggest moments of the record, such as the ballad-esqe “Fight For My Life”, or circle pit staple “Hope Theory”, Perez shows a sizable amount of growth in both his words and how he expresses them.
In the same hand, the band’s knack for the occasional breakdown is still very much in play. However, things seem to again be much more calculated and executed to a point that they aren’t just throwing them here and there for whatever reason. Sure, they are certainly not few and far between, but at least this time around they make a bit more sense in the flow and balance of things. For every big rhythmic moment, there’s a clean-backed chorus to tip the scales – well-executed (“Cycles”) or not (“Legacy”) – making this balance a much more digestible one in the process.
After faltering last time around, Cycles ends up as No Bragging Rights’ return to form in a way. If you’re looking for something in the vein of hardcore that has a pretty strong message at times that doesn’t fall to far into the aggressive side of things, Cycles is an album you should give your time to – you’ll probably be thankful for doing so.