Downcast Theory dig deep into the modern rock canon with a combination of heavy guitars, a vibrant rhythm section and a multifaceted vocal approach on this self-titled sophomore release.

The band effectively shows every side of their sound on the first track, “Forgotten Within.” There’s the first of many creative bass melodies from Ryan Sauerman, a memorable chorus sung by Matt Simon and good performances on the rhythm guitar and drums front. The only questionable thing about the track—and the record as a whole—is the gruff screaming from lead guitarist Jake Raynor, which seems a little forced on an album that otherwise has a decent amount of mainstream appeal.

Downcast Theory’s strengths lie in the big, melodic choruses on damn near every one of the 13 tracks. There are a number of tunes that fans are libel to choose as favorites, but the high points of “In Need,” “Insane,” “Look Away” and “Prayer” are particularly satisfying.

“Prayer” begins with a baleful clean guitar part reminiscent of Ozzy’s “Diary Of A Madman.” Drummer Matt Raunick, whose performances are the instrumental highlight of nearly every song, revs it with some kick drum/hihat thumps as the band hits the overdrive and blows through another great chorus, verse, chorus form.

“Invictus” follows as one of the better-flowing fusions of alt-rock and metal. Something about the guitar tone here just feels loads heavier than anything else on the album. And Raynor’s screaming doesn’t feel out of place on this one; he’s lower in the mix when Simon is singing and comes to the forefront as the bridge stomps around in a wanton display of downbeat worship.

All things considered, Downcast Theory is a really solid hard rock record from an emerging Jersey band. It definitely merits attention from fans of the style.

In A Word: Worthy

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