Review: Conquer Divide – Slow Burn
Conquer Divide are an all women melodic metalcore (or if you’re a sad old sack of metal elitist, “scenecore”) band. Not to pull the “female vocalist = Hayley Williams” card, but the best way to describe Conquer Divide in a few words as possible is Paramore, but heavy.
I first learnt about them when the tracklisting for TEKKNO by Electric Callboy was announced. I was immediately intrigued by the “feat.” on Fuckboi, so I looked them up. I’ll admit I wasn’t super impressed right off the bat, because their latest release at that point was a cover of Bad Habits by Ed Sheeran. It’s actually a fuckin’ fantastic cover, but I have an irrational hatred of Ed Sheeran so I was dismissive.
I didn’t go back to them again until a month later when they had released the lead single and opening track from this album, Atonement. That’s when the switch flipped and I fell in love. That’s when I went back and explored their first album (self-titled, which was released way back in 2015), and the few singles they’d released since then. I liked it, but Atonement stayed my favourite song of theirs… at least until another one from this album was released. We’ll get to that.
Atonement, although not my favourite from the album any more, is probably the strongest opener and lead single. It’s got a great groove to it, a massive breakdown that hits hard, and is just a well-written and performed song. I love it so freakin’ much.
N E W H E A V E N is the next track, and the most recently released single from the album. It’s not as heavy-hitting as Atonement, but it has an anthemic “We Will Rock You” kind of vibe which tickles my pickle. I also really liked the music video for this track!
When Paralyzed was released as a single, I wasn’t too fussed on it but I often wake up with it stuck in my head. I know for some people, an annoying earworm isn’t necessarily the sign of a good song, but for me it is. Solid, if a little generic.
Here it is: my second most favourite song overall right now (after Hypa Hypa by Electric Callboy). welcome2paradise is a song about how we suck at treating our planet properly so in addition to it just being a fucking great song, the lyrical content speaks to me. I feel like Kia and Janel’s voices are so perfectly balanced on this track, and I really like the “spoken” vocal part by Kristen before the breakdown.
PRESSURE is the first track I hadn’t heard before. I was briefly confused and though I may have been served the wrong track in my downloads because it opens with a hip-hop beat and it takes a while for the guitars to kick in, but I like it! Sometimes unexpected is good!
system_failure is another track that blends Kia and Janel’s vocals really well, with Janel coming in with Kia with some screams throughout the whole track. I also think Janel does some cleans on this track too which is always nice to hear! The variety of voices make Conquer Divide’s music so interesting to me, even though it could be said that the songs all sound quite similar.
playing w/ fire gives me major Halestorm vibes. I’m not entirely sure why, but it does. I think it’s because it’s basically only Kia on vocals, and it makes it less metalcore and more hard rock, imo. Don’t get me wrong, I love Halestorm and hard rock, but this is probably my least favourite track on the album. It’s not what I love Conquer Divide for. EDIT: Yeah, I love it now after a few listens. As per usual!
Over It. made me instantly feel like a teenager again. It’s unsurprising that a pop-punk inspired song would be on this album after they did a kickass pop-punk song with Electric Callboy. I also love that Janel has clean on this too! They do pop-punk so well with the heaviness that I now wish pop-punk had back in the day. I think this one will become an earworm!
Afterthought.wav is the heaviest song on the album by faaaaaar, and I FUCKING LOVE IT! The pattern changes! The chugging! The blast beats! Janel’s vocals! Even Kia sounds heavier even with her usually sweet tone. I also love that the breakdown is in an unexpected place.
the INVISIBLE was another song released as a single so I know it pretty well already, but I really identify with the lyrics from this one. “Have you ever been left out, been faceless in a crowd…”. It’s not the most interesting song on the album, but it’s lyrically beautiful and enjoyable for that reason.
wide awake is another solid lyrically-focused track that reminds me of another band that I can’t quite put my finger on. I have to say although I adore Kia’s vocals, I feel like that whenever they’re missing from a track, it becomes a bit plain and boring. The guitars are kick ass though!
OnlyGirl is another lyrically-focused track, but I don’t hate it. The chorus is really cleverly written, and I like how the music is arranged. Again, the lack of Janel’s vocals makes it kinda basic and apparently, my favourite Conquer Divide songs are the… not-basic ones. Kia’s voice really is stunning though!
gAtEkEePer is a song about being women in a male-dominated genre of music, and as someone who listens to A LOT of “female-fronted” metal and hard rock, I’m all for this track. Conquer Divide are literally just as good, if not better than a lot of the male metalcore bands out there (no really, I only listen to two of them… the rest are shite!), so you assholes deserved this song to point out your bullshit!
Overall, this is an amazing album that has a lot of surprises but also some expected, but not totally unwelcome tracks. I love these ladies and I’m so glad they’re out there doing the damn thing!
Tracks you should check out: welcome2paradise, Afterthought.wav, Atonement