Ithaca have been busy. Between Covid-19 lockdowns across the world and the death of their first record label, Ithaca faced an uphill battle to follow up their 2019 debut, The Language of Injury. All things considered, it didn’t take the London quintet long to regain footing and resume throwing punches. While certainly a fitting description for this new project, sure-footed and punchy may be an understatement. The latest album from Ithaca, They Fear Us, is a coup for metalcore.
The frenetic mathy riffage and soaring choruses that made their debut stand out are still here, not only polished, but stylistically more accessible. With less reliance on screeching feedback for added menace, these dissonant, mathy riffs stand on their own merit. Synths, piano, horns and strings layer beautifully within the melodic passages, lifting them even higher.
Where on The Language of Injury Djamila Boden Azzouz’s clean vocals were buried in the mix, now they take center stage, even on verses. As her clean singing has developed and diversified, her harsh vocals have also become much more consistent. Clear enunciation brings forward killer lines like “Why would I stab you in the back when you’ve got so many faces to choose from.” Sam Chetan-Welsh’s glitchy precision screeches of guitar function much like the confetti blasts at their live shows—unexpected, overwhelming, and the aesthetic string that ties everything together.
Their songwriting is now even tighter, cohering the album together. The penultimate song “You Should Have Gone Back,” is an ebullient affirmation of all their proggiest tendencies, and effectively functions as a one-two punch with the finale. That beautiful closing track “Hold, Be Held” fully interpolates the opening track, switching Azzouz’s clean chorus on the latter to front stage melody, and burying her harsh verses under the bridge: “When will I heal?”
Ithaca have shed their scrappy outsider energy in favor of an ambitious power play. At the outset of their careers the genre bending chameleons played shows anywhere, with anyone, garnering a wide audience through sheer force of will and emotional range. Now they channel that appeal onto the center stage of the UK metal scene, with a powerful sophomore album to match, rightfully taking their throne as one of the best metalcore bands today.