No Bragging Rights - Cycles (2012)

Nearly two years ago, No Bragging Rights released their third full-length album, Illuminator. Illuminator was a perfect blend of melodic hardcore and metalcore, or so I thought. This time around on Cycles, this five-piece band from Riverside, California truly did find that perfect blend of the aforementioned genres.

Instrumentally, Cycles is very similar to Counterparts' The Current Will Carry Us and this can be heard on nearly every track. The drumming is upbeat and impressive and the guitar riffs and leads are almost a carbon copy. That's not a bad thing, though, because Counterparts is arguably one of the best melodic hardcore bands around right now. Furthermore, because the vocals are very different from Counterparts, Cycles doesn't sound entirely the same as The Current Will Carry Us.

If you haven't listened to No Bragging Rights in the past, you'll soon find out that the vocalist, Mike Perez, has a style that is very similar to those of Jesse Barnett (Stick to Your Guns) and Ian Fike (It Prevails). He goes back and forth from angelic cleans to passionate hardcore screaming, and this makes the vocals nearly impossible to sound monotonous to any hardcore or metalcore fan.

There is vocal and instrumental variety on every track, but the songs that stood out to me the most were "Appraisals and Omissions," "Cycles" and "Fight for My Life." "Appraisals and Omissions" is full of melody and powerful vocals, contains my favourite chorus on the album and the ending is beautiful. The song that follows "Appraisals and Omissions" is the title track. "Cycles" comes in with a beautiful melody that can be heard throughout the track, it features Mattie Montgomery (For Today) and it is one of the heaviest tracks on the album – mainly because of the massive guest vocals – but it also has an extremely catchy chorus.

A few tracks after "Cycles," we come to my favourite track which is titled "Fight for My Life". "Fight For My Life" starts off with a nice riff and a fast-paced verse with clean/harsh vocals (you'll hear what I mean) which then transitions into a spectacular chorus. After the chorus, the track progressively becomes more aggressive and it reaches its high point when we are greeted by the guest vocals of Brendan Murphy (Counterparts). Similar to "Appraisals and Omissions," "Fight for My Life" ends on a beautiful note with a very relaxing melody that sets up the next song perfectly.

Another thing that I'd like to highlight is the positive message being conveyed through Cycles. Mike has usually written hope-filled lyrics in the past, but they are particularly strong on this release. Almost the entire album, he tells us that "things are going to get better." Although those lyrics are pretty cliché, they are solid lyrics and there are several more powerful lyrics. I could list countless lyrics, but my favourite is "I will never look back / I will never lose hope / I believe that things can change / I believe that brighter days are coming" heard on the first single that the band released, "Hope Theory."

Aside from The Ghost Inside's Get What You Give, Stick To Your Guns' Diamond and Gideon's Milestone, there hasn't been too many memorable melodic hardcore releases this year. Thankfully, for me and other fans of this particular genre, No Bragging Rights has created an incredible album that is an improvement on Illuminator in every way, shape and form; it is better vocally and lyrically, and it is much more melodic. Be sure to check out Cycles – one of the most heart-filled releases of 2012 – when it hits the shelves on October 16.

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By Steven Pongrac ~ Me Gusta Reviews



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