Words by Ryan Kappy

Loss and salvation are two nouns that could never coincide when you think about it. But when it comes to emo/post-hardcore legends The Used, those two nouns have laid the groundwork for the ongoing theme that they have delivered successfully in the last twenty years. With their eighth full-length record, Heartwork, it seems that The Used has put a modern twist with this theme with lyrical context and expanding musical compositions their fans have yet to hear.

With famed producer John Feldmann at the switch boards, The Used chose to embrace their true sound while also opening the door to new arrangements that have yet to be tackled. For instance, single “Cathedral Bell” has a pop-trap approach that pays homage to Billie Eilish. There is clear indication that the band wanted to potentially crack the Billboard 100 with tracks like “Clean Cut Heals”, with the band clearly understanding the state of the music industry with putting a twist on their own product with modern music techniques.

Of course, the band pays homage to their original mix of massive riffs and string arrangements with the sinister yet poppy “1984 – infinite jest”, which brings back memories of hearing their classic track “The Bird And The Worm”. “Obvious Blase” sounds like the distant cousin of “I Caught Fire” (which also features Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker on drums), with high-string guitar melodies the band have utilized in the past.

Heartwork has special guest vocals to help alleviate their new material to capture the nature of the song at hand. The heaviest and dooming track “The Lottery”, featuring Caleb Shomo of Beartooth, has an exploding bridge that soars to the death metal-esque pathway. “The Lighthouse”, which features Blink-182 vocalist/bassist Mark Hoppus, helps McCracken with cheerful and hopeful lyrics in a lighthearted number that will have fans singing the night away. The wild “Blow Me” fits the profile of bringing Jason Aalon Butler to the forefront to perform a chaotic yet relieving bridge that will be remembered in the band’s catalog for sure.

In all, the record has shown The Used took a past chapter in their career from 2004’s In Love and Death, while being innovative and forward thinking. Not to mention, the album artwork for Heartwork dons the famous heart being held by a single tree branch that was on the original 2004 effort. With the two skeletons reaching out for one another’s hand, it is a symbol that the quartet have seized the day to create a progressive effort that will surely be ranked as one of the band’s best in recent memory.

The Used
© April 24, 2020

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