I make no secret of the fact that I got my musical start in hardcore and punk rock, so when a band claims to be part of a genre that I grew up with, I tend to be pretty territorial. Melodic hardcore, much like “post-hardcore,” is a term a lot of bands back in the early 2000s liked to use when they didn’t want to be outed as scream bands; sadly, many of those bands had no clue that those sub-genres already existed, with bands that sounded WAY different. In the case of The Pariah, who refer to themselves as melodic hardcore, they are exactly what they claim to be.
Divided By Choice, their debut EP, is full of melodic, noodly guitar bits played alongside some crunchy, tough guy hardcore breakdowns and shouted vocals. The end result lies somewhere between Shai Hulud and Comeback Kid, both being bands that I still completely adore. “Average” is a particularly exciting track, with a rather pretty-sounding guitar bit, and which then launches into the kind of hardcore riffs that will definitely get a circle pit going. I’m usually not a fan of the sing/scream vocals most modern bands try to incorporate into the sound, but The Pariah’s vocalist has a harsher singing style that sounds more like melodic yelling (similar to Comeback Kid) that manages to carry the tune while maintain full aggression.
With a very professional and pristine mixing and mastering job, Divided By Choice sets itself apart from the current crop of “melodic hardcore” releases being pushed by actually being exactly as advertised. Sure, there are breakdowns all over the place, but they’re not the focal point of each track, and The Pariah never really let up on the energy. If you’re not a fan of hardcore, this probably won’t change your mind, but if you enjoy melodic hardcore along the lines of Shai Hulud or Comeback Kid, and want to wash that nasty Emmure taste out of your mouth, pick up a copy of Divide By Choice.