The sophomore album from Maryland-based hardcore rockers Sharptooth wastes little time getting down to business. Fronted by vocalist Lauren Kashan, it’s pretty cool to hear hardcore music through the lens of a woman. Transitional Forms tackles the themes of going through changes in life, and the aftermath of feeling like you’re not the one in control. Kashan mentioned this quote about the new record: “Ultimately, the record is about a paradigm shift, from hopelessness to self-compassion, and the fundamental realization that nothing in this world or in ourselves is ever black and white. It’s the story of my personal struggle with the societal, interpersonal, and internal constructs that have left me feeling small, afraid, broken, and utterly hopeless.” Their brutal approach to heavy themes is felt far and wide on this album that hits as heavy as it was intended.
The album opens aggressively with the punishing introductory single, “Say Nothing (In the Absence of Content),” and it becomes increasingly evident that the band is taking no prisoners. Kashan’s visceral vocal approach is utterly impressive, and the band backing her up is equally up to the task of providing heavy-hitting riffs. The band pauses briefly in the middle of the track to set the stage of letting the listener know they “are gonna slow shit down, so you can all kill each other.” The aggressive breakdown on the opener showcases the power of their dual-guitar attack and features pulsating beats to back up their charismatic lead vocalist.
Their second single, “The Gray” features some melodic hardcore elements to their attack, and should allow for some crowd interaction moments whenever the smoke settles on the pandemic, and they can get back to playing shows. Other tongue-in-cheek moments found on the album are found on “Mean Brain” that leads off with a little kid singing an old nursery rhyme about nobody liking them. The band even features this refrain towards the end of the track to bring everything back full circle.
Other songs like the aggressive “Evolution” show off the band’s ability to build up to a proper crescendo through using hardcore music elements to tell a story. The track reminded me of the brilliant build-ups found on Underoath’s Define the Great Line album, and makes this track an equally cathartic listening experience.
Sharptooth have shown plenty of musical chops on Transitional Forms to show that they belong on the tip of everyone’s tongues when they mention up-and-coming hardcore bands to keep an eye out for. Their unique style of storytelling in their brutal approach to their music is ready to take on all comers as they battle to prove they belong with the heaviest of hitters in their scene.