Lockjaw – Relentless (Self-Released)

Wednesday, 5th July 2023
Rating: 8 / 10

A staple of the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas heavy music scene, Lockjaw consists of band members whose friendships go back to high school during their origins in 1998. They’ve released a series of EP’s and singles over the years, establishing a reliable presence in the studio as well as the stage. Relentless is the latest full-length, a nine-song offering that should sit well in most groove-oriented, melodic metal collections as the performances contain equal elements of alternative/modern accents as they do nods to metalcore.

The art of assembling the right riffs in the best order, only to position the correct transitions or breakdowns for maximum headbanging, body hurtling mechanisms, is a staple for these musicians. Most listeners will be hard pressed not to sway to the grooves within “I Can’t Escape” and the staccato pummeling follow-up title track – energetic double kick / tempo shifts and catchy chorus work for the latter elevating the memorable factors tenfold. The versatile vocals convey any emotion desirable – screams to smooth, clean singing, adding in a mysterious narrative element to “Devil in Disguise” where you feel Lamb of God could be smashing headlong into aspects of Sevendust. The plethora of 90’s/2000’s influences abound in the layers of guitar parts, build ups/ breakdowns, and general melodic angst present throughout the record – “Breaking Point” one of those songs where nu-metal, post-grunge nuances collide against this natural crossover metalcore atmosphere to become a second half highlight. Famed producer Chris Collier ensures a sound that is robust, edgy, and favorable to those who prefer a lively tone to their metal proceedings – especially when things get a bit more Swedish melo-death in the opening twin guitar sequence for “Silence the Fear” before transitioning into a style more familiar to fans of Trivium or All That Remains.

Relentless isn’t rewriting the American modern metal playbook – Lockjaw instead intent on reminding the listeners that when assembling all the key ingredients in the proper fashion, the outcome can be tasty enough for multiple, repeated servings for quite a long time.

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