Album review: New Years Day – Half Black Heart

California goth-rock mainstays New Years Day dig deep into their duality on thumping fifth album, Half Black Heart.

Album review: New Years Day – Half Black Heart
Sam Law

How do I unbreak my heart?’ asks Ash Costello. ‘How do I go back to the start / Before it all fell apart?’ It’s something of a mission statement for New Years Day. Almost two decades in, things might not really have come off the rails for the Anaheim goth-rock mainstays, but some of the dark lustre has faded across the intervening years. These 12 tracks feel like a bold shot at winning the old black magic back.

On one level, that’s about recapturing chemistry. Indeed, reuniting with Jeremy Valentyne (guitar), Brandon Wolfe (bass) and Trixx Daniel (drums) does seem to have injected a shot of the old venom back into songs like slamming tech-metal inflected opener Vampyre and stomping highlight Hurts Like Hell. Deeper down, though, it feels like a re-examination of how NYD have transitioned from young hotshots into weathered scene-leaders and how that’s deepened their foundational dualities: pop and metal, bounce and brutality, the light red and dark black.

The results are sometimes striking. The title-track, for instance, is a masterclass in the slinkiness and snarl that have always seen NYD stand apart. Fearless feels custom-tooled to ignite fist-pumping sing-alongs, no matter how massive the venue. The beguiling understatement of mid-album highlight Bullet Proof clashes thrillingly with the waltzing high-drama of Burn It All Down. The downside is that that pursuit of old fire – inevitably – comes at the cost of meaningful progress.

Tellingly-titled closer Creature Of Habit suggests they might not give a damn, mind. And when Ash and the boys’ inky formula hits full flow, it’s still obvious that nobody does it better.

Verdict: 3/5

For fans of: The Pretty Reckless, Halestorm, Cassyette

Half Black Heart is released on March 1 via Century Media

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