I still listen to the radio. Yes, the medium has seen better days. Deregulation and corporatization have sapped much of its character. But there’s still an old-school futuristic charm for me - music being transmitted through electromagnetic waves. It’s still kinda mind-blowing, plus it’s free. Columbus is fortunate to have some amazing stations (WCBE, WWCD) that support local music. But I like to flip around. And it is The Blitz (99.7, WRKZ) that brought Beartooth to my attention. I'd been aware of Beartooth and had heard some of their music. But it wasn’t until I heard tracks from The Surface on the radio that I started to get their music. The Columbus band’s fifth album, The Surface, was just released on October 13 and 99.7 has it in pretty heavy rotation.
Red Bull Records - RBR1005VL
October 13, 2023
Formed in 2012 shortly before he left Attack Attack!, Caleb Shomo has performed all of the instrumental tracks for Beartooth in his Columbus basement studio since the band’s inception. How much involvement the band had on The Surface isn’t immediately clear. Beartooth’s current touring lineup also includes guitarist Will Deely, bassist Oshie Bichar, drummer Connor Denis, and rhythm guitarist Zach Huston, all of whom are credited on The Surface. Bichar co-wrote “Look The Other Way” with Shomo.
Caleb Shomo grew up in Westerville with a pastor father and a nurse mother. He's been public about his mental health struggles. The Surface is notable in the Beartooth catalog for the positivity in the lyrics. There is still the screaming that metalcore is known for, but it’s offset by clean vocals and catchy melodies. With relatable lyrics that cover topics not typically heard in metal, The Surface is Beartooth’s most accessible album to date. There is certainly some experimenting going on, including a collaboration with Hardy on “The Better Me,” which will likely annoy the purists while expanding the band's visibility. I’m all for it. The more artists ignore genres, the better.
“I’ve always loved pop,” Shomo told NME in August. “I wanted to let that part of me out more. With this record, I wanted to just be a bit more fearless in what I was doing and more focused and just let the pop out.”
“I’m very ready for people to hear this one and ready to spread some love," Shomo noted to Rolling Stone Australia. "I’m very proud to be able to try and be saying something else that hopefully, will influence people to maybe take some more control over their own lives and their own mental health, and physical wellbeing. Whatever it means, at the end of the day. Just to be happy.”
Shomo moved from Columbus to Los Angeles late in 2022. The change of scenery and climate helped improve Shomo’s mental and physical health and influenced The Surface from the color of the cover (inspired by LA sunsets) to the positivity reflected in the lyrics. “It all feels like a dream,” Shomo told Red Bull about his new life in LA. “But sometimes I have to realize that I worked very hard to be living in this dream. I don’t want to take it for granted… Being able to go out and get exercise in the sunshine, it’s completely changed my mental state.”
Critical reception to The Surface has been largely positive:
“The best and most consistent Beartooth have ever sounded on record.” - Kerrang
“Mixing more traditional metalcore with dashes of country and straight-ahead rock make for a great blend, making "The Surface" a mesmerizing listen.” - BlabberMouth
“The Surface finds Beartooth achieving musical maturity and growth.” - Riff Magazine
“Shomo and co have created a blazingly emotional album. Score: 7/10” - Noizze
It’s a testament to the diversity of the Columbus music scene that metal, pop, rock, and alternative can all be heard on local radio. And don’t take for granted that multiple radio stations are playing local music. That does not exist everywhere. Beartooth is a national band now, but Shomo cut his teeth in the Columbus music community and developed the skills and connections necessary to launch his project to incredible worldwide success. The Surface debuted at #42 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the Hard Rock Albums chart for the week ending October 28. Their headlining tour begins January 12 at the Andrew J. Brady Center in Cincinnati. Additional GA tickets were just released.
A1 The Surface
A3 Doubt Me
Featuring – Hardy
B5 I Was Alive
Copyright © – Red Bull Records, Inc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Red Bull Records, Inc.
Recorded At – The Clubhouse, Los Angeles
Recorded At – The Clubhouse, Columbus, OH
Recorded At – Red Bull Studios, Los Angeles, CA
Mixed At – The Hit Factory
Mastered At – The Hit Factory
Vocals – Caleb Shomo
Bass, Backing Vocals – Oshie Bichar
Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals – Will Deely
Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals - Zach Huston
Drums, Backing Vocals – Connor Denis
Producer, Engineer – Caleb Shomo
Additional Production – Oshie Bichar
Additional Engineering – James Musshorn
Mixed By, Mastered By – Caleb Shomo
A&R – Kenny "Tick" Salcido
Booking – Dave Shapiro