Twentyinchburial - How Much Will We Laugh and Smile? (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


How Much Will We Laugh and Smile? (2005)

Immigrant Sun

A nation not exactly renowned for its exportation of hardcore music, Portugal come straight out of left field with the release of Twentyinchburial's How Much Will We Laugh and Smile?

While far from what anyone would consider original, this album drives the band home at a frantic and chaotic pace. Opting to include barely any huge breakdowns and mosh parts, it leaves the band time to infuse some rock‘n'roll style into their metallic hardcore approach. Again, far from new, but I'll take that any day over breakdowns and blast-beats. Singer Rui Miguel Bras sounds like a madman on his last shred of sanity, and his often off-kilter approach brings some variety to each individual song. His individual approach to the vocals isn't unique per se, but it's definitely a breath of fresh air when it comes to this stagnated genre. Problems arise when the background vocals enter the fray.

"Evil Made Manifest" is a pretty killer track for the most part, with some great rhythms and some great riffs, but once the song slows its pace a bit for the sung vocals, it's all over. The singing is a dull, monotone attempt to add some "variety" into the songwriting scheme, and it causes the band to fall flat on their faces. "Nowhere" is also a track that starts out with good intentions, but ends up traversing some pop-punk territory as far as the vocals are concerned, and that's not where a metallic hardcore band needs to be. It's a shame, as the actual musical base shows some real promise.

Wasting absolutely no time, "Forward" immediately starts things off with some simple but heavy and groove-laden rhythms, and when the vocals come in, it only furthers the solid songwriting. I keep coming back to the vocals, as they just seem to have that certain "something" that places their vocalist a cut above the rest. "Letters of Discontempt" starts out with some punishing riffs and throat-searing vocals, and the rhythms rise and fall, cascading underneath it all, but those damn sung vocals come back to haunt them once again. I wish there was at least one track where there's no singing whatsoever, so I could see what this band is actually capable of without having any one element muddle them into less than mediocrity. It's frustrating more than anything to see flashes of greatness, and to have the ebb and flow all messed up by some unnecessary vocals.

This really could have been a great effort for what it is, but no matter how great the rhythms are, or how much passion and chaos is in Miguel Bras' scream, it's just that singing that should have stayed on the other side of the pond.