The album opens up with ‘Doris’—and the instant breakdown manages to get you hyped for the song. However, for me, that’s where the positives ended. Though the bridge and the chorus had clean vocals, which leant for an interesting sound—the whole song had abrupt changes of instrumentals. It made the song feel rushed, then slow, then rushed again—with no clear end goal. This song felt like it couldn’t quite find it rhythm, especially with the secondary breakdown near the end that really just felt out of place, as the rest of the song wasn’t necessarily all that fast paced.
Following on from this is ‘Silence’—and from the first note, it sounds more welcoming than Doris did, with softer guitars and certainly a more confident musical sound. The more prominent clean vocals here help to give the song a very atmospheric feel—creepy and eerie, though at certain points the guitar did remind me of Muse. It’s a wonderfully haunting song about how they are constant reminders of death everywhere in our daily lives—at times making it feel almost inescapable. “Silence, death is all I hear”, is a wonderful line, and it only adds to the haunting tone of the song, about the certainty of our own mortality, certainly an incredibly morbid message but no means wrong. However, the addition of the screaming vocals near the end of the song felt very forced—when the song worked well enough without them, and it kind of made the tone of the song clash instead of work together. Moving onto “Listen”, the most interesting thing about this track was the vocal addition of spoken word—almost reminiscent of a monologue, “The perfect storm will never be good enough”, an absolutely wonderful lyric about the incessant need of constantly wanting more.
“Dying in a red room” is next up. The haunting guitar here helps to instantly set the mood—and it makes me think that this song could have a really interesting music video somewhere down the line. The line, “I’m living through death”, is a nice linkage to the themes in the previous songs (more specifically, Silence), and it was nice to see all of the themes coming together—as before this point, it didn’t feel as if any of the songs connected, they all felt a little jumbled and confused. This song in particular however provides for a personal and saddening glimpse into someone’s darkest thoughts—again the theme of being constantly reminded of their own mortality; made all the more poignant because of the untimely death of their original front-man, Mitch Lucker.
Skip forward a song and you have “The Zero”, the immediate softer guitar here and more prominent drums give the song a much more melancholy feel—I would say it’s definitely closer to metal than it is deathcore. Like the songs preceding it, it explores the idea of not getting the time one deserves (“everything expires before its time”). The two contrasting vocal styles here work in harmony, which was something that they never quite achieved in the preceding songs, and with lines like: “heaven is the electric chair”, this song really gives the band a chance to explore the deeper themes of the album, especially with such beautifully haunting lyrics.
Moving onto “Conformity”, it might easily be my favourite track on the record. The isolated guitar and vocals here were certainly the last thing I was expecting to hear, even more so when it came to the inclusion of an acoustic guitar. Unlike the previous songs, which were angry and full of questions—this song feels very self-reflective, as if they have already reached a decision (“conformity is the secret”). And even then, the bitterness of the song can’t quite be escaped, but that’s something that I personally loved about it, as I don’t think it ought to be something to be ignored as it makes the song work. This is one of the few songs on the album that feels wonderfully composed, with beautiful guitar, drums and vocals. It somehow manages to feel angry yet calm at the same time—as if they have reached a conclusion, but it isn’t one that they are happy with as they don’t understand it.
So do the band deserve all of this backlash? Of course not, music is all subjective and change is something that happens naturally. Though this album had a couple of really good songs, unfortunately, a lot of the album felt incredibly disjointed. There were abrupt instrumental and tonal changes in each song, between soft guitar to aggressive breakdowns—with little warning and no real conclusion. The vocal styles didn’t really help either—as it felt as if they were at war with themselves, as if the band couldn’t quite figure out what kind of music they wanted to make, so they threw it all in together. But, it wasn’t all like that—like I mentioned, “Conformity” proved that the two different styles could work together beautifully. But more than that though, this album felt very experimental, like the band wanted to take a different creative route but still felt tied down to the fact that their genre is ‘deathcore’. However, we change as people all the time—we grow and develop and our tastes are never fixed—and neither are the tastes and experiences of musicians and nor should they feel tied down to one genre or one particular style of music.
Written by Asya Kardzhaliyska
The album will release on February 24th, 2017 (tomorrow)
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