By: Nick Villers
Release Date: March 4, 2022
FFO: Easycore bands, Pop Punk with Breakdowns, Four Year Strong, Wilmette
Click here to support Belmont from their van accident:
Chicago "bouncy" band Belmont is back with their first full-length release on Pure Noise Records, following up to their Pure Noise 2020 EP 'Reflections' and 2018 self-titled album on Mutant League Records. Just as the easycore coals were cooling off, Belmont has returned to stoke the fire with their rapid fire choruses, djenty breakdowns, and drums that could be disguised on a deathcore record. But that's not all. Not only has Belmont continued to hone in on their craft and technical abilities, they've decided to have fun, "give less of a fuck", and instead do whatever they want. This Mark Manson approach has resulted 'Aftermath' to include everything and the kitchen sink: metal ("Parasitic"), prog ("Top Gun (From the Top)"), electronic ("4am // Disappear"), hip-hop ("Pain Now"), and even country...yes country. Put on the track "Country Girl". It'll change your life. This 39 minute melting pot gives Belmont a new flavor but is still wrapped around their signature easycore, pop punk sound.
This genre-bender has been released in the wake of a challenging two years for the band. They departed with longtime guitarist Sam Patt in the midst of the pandemic, and continued to push forward writing & recording during an unknown time for the entire music industry. A little more than a month before the album's release, bassist Alex Wieringa left the band, and three days after 'Aftermath' was released, Belmont was involved in a van accident after they hit a patch of black ice on tour. (Thankfully the band is ok. Check out their gofundme link at the top of the page to help them get back on their feet). Despite all of this, Belmont has pushed to have more fun, give less fucks, and do what they want. At the same time, they show they're not afraid to be vulnerable and relatable to the challenges life brings.
Vocalist Taz Johnson shows this through every track. In "4am // Disappear",
Just let me out of here / I just want to disappear / Nobody understands / All the space that I demand / I get stuck in overdrive / That's the reason I'm alive / Feeling dead at 23 / That's just not the way to be.
Even in more lighthearted, upbeat tracks like "Bowser's Castle", Taz doesn't stray from being vulnerable and honest, creating a polarizing moment for you as the listener as you find your head bobbing to one of the most catchiest, yet serious choruses on the record.
Why push me off the edge when I'll just go jump off myself? / Won't need your help don't worry, I can sink or swim no doubt / My thoughts are turning blurry it's the fear of missing out / I don't think you understand the weight I used to drag around.
What's impressive is how much Belmont has grown as musicians and show what separates them from other pop punk bands in the scene. They bring a high level of technicality and speed through Jason Inguagiato's guitar playing and Brian Lada's drumming. Belmont legitimately could be a metal band as their side hustle and at times listening to 'Aftermath' you think they are. They lean into heavier influences more on this record than on previous efforts and it fits them well. You can tell they love what they are creating and playing. Isn't that what it's all about?
For longtime Belmont fans, you'll notice a change on 'Aftermath'. It may take a couple of full listens through to let the record sink in as they've pushed the envelope of their sound. But as you do listen, you realize they bring everything to the table, elevate their musicianship, and have fun doing it. It's heavy, catchy, serious, bouncy, drenched in riffs and ridiculously good looking drum fills, it's a punch to the gut, it takes you on the back roads home up to Illinois, and much more. Why did they do this? Drummer Brian Lada said it best...
"More than anything, I just hope this album inspires people to give less of a fuck and instead do whatever they want.”