Boy Becomes Hero is a heavy music band led by Michigan musician Andrew Brittingham, who releases metal-tinged hardcore under the moniker. Most of the band’s music is characterized by double kick drum blasts, start-stop metal riffage, harsh screams and an occasional melodic chorus. Today however, we get to see a completely different side of the project with the premiere of their new song “Abscond.” Unlike the previous single from their upcoming album Escape Artist, “Efficacy/Flexibility,” “Abscond” is a completely instrumental, ambient electronic piece. On the album it serves as an interlude to connect the more brutal outings but it’s well-developed enough of a song to stand well on its own.
The idea of an extreme music band changing up the pace with interlude-style tracks isn’t a completely new idea – in fact Brittingham said he “had a similar approach with the last album, but I think we really found the right sound this time.” However, it’s not often that these types of songs can hold up so well on their own. While on the album it serves as a respite from the blast beats and gutterals, alone it stands out as a melancholy, thought-provoking, fully-formed piece of music. If “Abscond” is any indication, it seems that Brittingham could have a second career as a downtempo artist.
“The rest of the album is extremely heavy and is really kind of a horror album,” said Brittingham. “Tracks like ‘Abscond’ allow the listener a little bit of a break from the unrelenting heaviness in the core tracks of the album. They also allow the listener to get an amazing sense of what’s happening in the concept. I decided to release this track ahead of the album for a couple of different reasons. One is that we don’t want to give everything away in the singles… there’s a lot of surprise coming. The second is that I think it really shows a lot of the maturity in this album and the diversity that it holds.”
The new album Escape Artist was made in partnership with well-regarded advocacy group To Write Love On Her Arms, with the goal of raising awareness of depression, self-harm, addiction and suicide. The concept record is based on the struggles of the main character Amatera, whose parts are performed by Brittingham. Throughout the album he searches for Restitution, struggling with the toxic relationships and mistakes he will make in the future and has made in the past. The album features guest appearances by Jonny Craig (former singer for Dance Gavin Dance, Emarosa and Slaves) playing the character Ajna and Garret Rapp of The Color Morale playing Ninjen.
“I think every fan of the first album is going to hear a lot of change in Escape Artist,” said Brittingham. “My writing has really matured and so has my voice. Since Reverie I really focused a lot on my vocals and I think it really shows. I also took a couple of steps back and realized where my writing is best and where it may have been lacking. On the debut album I tried to push the limits with things like solos that were extremely difficult to write and play. This time I didn’t try to over extend myself into things musically that I didn’t feel comfortable with. That probably sounds backwards from what a lot of artists want to do, wanting to be flashier and more technical from album to album is common, but I think that taking a step back has paid off perfectly.”
Releasing an album in the midst of a global pandemic is tough. There are issues with production and of course the obvious issue of not being able to promote the album with live in-person tours.
“I suppose the lockdowns have really affected me in a lot of different ways,” said Brittingham. “I own a gym here in Michigan and that’s been the biggest issue. We’ve been closed since March 16th and still don’t have a reopening date. That’s pretty daunting and maddening. Our members are amazing though so we are still receiving a great deal of support and positivity from them. Because my business is closed though it allowed me to take a second glance at Escape Artist and put more time in. Allowing Jonathan Gering (The Devil Wears Prada) to jump on board with programming and keys really helped take the album to a whole different level. I think the lockdowns have let music lovers put some more time into listening to music and finding new artists…and I think that’s great. The loyalty of fans has been really amazing to see. So really, aside from a couple of mental breakdowns (haha), things have been very positive. Certainly hoping the world and our communities can heal soon and properly.
Escape Artist Track Listing
3. “Craftsmanship” with Garret Rapp
5. “Consciousness” with Garret Rapp & featuring Jonny Craig
6. “Interdependence” with Garret Rapp
8. “Restitution” with Garret Rapp
9. “Clouds as Mountains” featuring Ranadi