While modern metalcore seems to be gravitating more to the -core side of the spectrum, budding Birmingham ensemble Opheon deliver a refreshing and much-needed take on metalcore proper, where intricate guitar work and heavy symbol usage reign bloody and supreme. Though the vocals sometimes dip into melodic hardcore textures and they even work in their own take on breakdowns in “The Distance” and “A Portrait Of Self Hate,” it is the versatility and prominence of the guitars, the intensely varied and seamless syncopations, and the sheer speed of the work that put the ‘metal’ in ‘metalcore’ on this EP.
With the exception of the one slow song on the record (“The Answer”), As I Walk With Fire is the very definition of brutal. The EP hearkens back to the glory days of acts like Trivium, Bullet For My Valentine and Lamb Of God, reaching insane heights with the last song, “Lost In Undertow.” This song is the crowning achievement of the EP in terms of showcasing the virtuosity of nearly every instrumentalist. Between the catchy yet searing chorus, the almost inhuman double bass, and the masterful oscillation between devastating squealing and shredding and the slower, chugging grooves, there is so much dimension in this one five minute track it is practically impossible to believe most of the members are only around 19 years old.
Though the bass guitar tends to get lost and the vocals need to be tightened before slow songs become their strong suit, As I Walk With Fire demonstrates incredible talent and crushing tenacity. As yet unsigned, Opheon surely won’t remain so for long.