"Refined" is the word that sums up Caskets's newest release via Sharptone Records: Reflections. Full transparency: I am a massive fanboy of their work, returning to their work as Captives. They have gone through a gradual sound change as they found their voice. With Reflections, they inched much closer to finding what makes Caskets unique and refined what they do best.
The slow build-up to a grand and massive chorus is Caskets' brand. Nobody in the scene executes this style better. The intro track "Believe" shows how they refined that build-up with witty wordplay and lyricism. Then the chorus kicks in, reminding you that Caskets still has it. My favorite chorus occurs during "Guiding Light," a true cry for help (I hope whoever wrote this song is OK). Although the song has a somber meaning, it has everything that makes a pop hit. The track has a massive chorus, hard-hitting lyrics, a fun instrumental, and some riffs. Everything that makes Caskets enjoyable.
The production of Reflections by Dan Weller is the unsung hero. The ambiance throughout the album is quite immersive. Each track washes over you and transports the listener into the state of the band's choosing. My favorite showcase of this feeling is "Too Late." This song sounds like it could be directly out of I See Stars' Treehouse in the best way. Sometimes when bands add electronic influences, they stick out like a sore thumb. In "Too Late" and the entire album, these influences blend in perfectly and elevate each track.
"More Than Misery" is a standout track that features metalcore mainstays The Word Alive's vocalist Telle Smith. The track is incredibly well-written and performed. Hearing Telle's voice completely unleashed on a track was a treat. Though I wonder if it would have been better suited for a more aggressive track like "Six Feet Down." Telle's feature during the breakdown is such a rather jarring tone shift.
The breakdowns on the album are innovative and unique. Caskets are as much of a metalcore band as the new-Bad Omens and Sleep Token. Maybe they are post-hardcore; maybe they are part of a new post-metalcore genre. Regardless, they offer a new type of breakdown, where the instruments still go down-tempo, but there is an electronic beat-drop with aggressive vocals and cadence. It is hard to describe, but "Too Late"'s breakdown threw me for a loop in a good way.
"Hate Me" is my favorite track on Reflections. The song is catchy and perfectly describes the paradoxical nature of a toxic relationship. My favorite part occurs in the chorus when vocalist Matt Flood cries, "I love it when you hate...hate all of me!"
The finale, "Better Way Out," is the inverse "Guiding Light" and offers a lifeline to anyone afraid to ask for help. It offers a message of hope. The chorus exclaims, “When all is said and done, you’re as strong as anyone.” It is a truly positive note to end a journey of an album. Many listeners in this scene struggle with mental health, making messages like these crucial.
With Reflections, Caskets take everything they are known for and experiment piece-by-piece to keep the listener on their toes and build something unique. Vocalist Matt Flood speaks of messages of regret, helplessness, and at the end, hope. Everyone can find something in this album to relate to. Even with these messages, you can find any song on Reflections enjoyable to dance to, some even to mosh with. I am completely and utterly intrigued to see what Caskets cook up next.
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