CowardsAn album that’s every bit as ominous as its cover suggests; the artwork depicts a woman’s head tilted back and a hand placed on her throat – whether this is a means of harm or caress is anyone’s guess, but it certainly puts the viewer on edge.

This is Cowards’ second full length and their longest release so far, given that debut ‘Shooting Blanks and Pills’ comprised six tracks and EP ‘Hoarder’ consisted of five. It leaves the listener wondering if the French five-piece will outstay their welcome by stringing things out for ten songs, but thankfully this isn’t the case. Cowards have kept much of the same core in terms of musicality, but this release is wholly different to anything they’ve previously put out. This record is shrouded in chaos with a wickedly loud and brash hardcore feel to it, and it seems that the band have great fun giving their fans whiplash from repeatedly jumping from the slow and sludgy to fast and manic at barely a moment’s notice.

The constant change in pace and mash up of black, hardcore and sludge will perhaps make you uncomfortable if you’re not familiar with Cowards’ previous releases. This is a record that needs to be consumed as a whole – picking and choosing tracks to listen to individually will not enable you to appreciate the sheer gravity of this opus. It’s an experience; a harrowing, frightening, soul wrenching experience, narrated by vocalist J.H’s pained screams.

‘Rise to Infamy’ is a real cohesive piece of work; spanning at just over 40 minutes, it’s relentless and doesn’t let up for air. Just as it relaxes into a mid-tempo sludge dirge, it will lurch back with a heated hardcore onslaught. Prepare to be kept on your toes.

 (7.5/10 Angela Davey)