Archive for category Post-Hardcore/Screamo

Senses Fail: Renacer Review

Curious as to how Senses Fail’s venture into the post-hardcore genre went? Check out Diamond In The Rock’s review for their new album Renacer here!

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Silverstein: This Is How The Wind Shifts Review

Here’s the review for Silverstein’s sixth full-length album, “This Is How The Wind Shifts!” Like I’ve mentioned in a few posts already, this blog has been turned into a full website and I won’t be posting reviews here in the future. But if you want to read this review and over 120 other rock album reviews, head over to the new Diamond In The Rock site or click here to read the Silverstein review!

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Woe, Is Me: Genesi[s] Review

When bands undergo a major personnel upheaval like Woe, Is Me did, it’s easy to understand why the quality of music would take a turn for the worse. Such is the case with Genesi[s], an album that faces an identity crisis much akin to the band’s struggles in settling on a lineup. Newcomer Hance Alligood shows that he can belt out clean vocals with the best of them, but his overly melodious and poppy choruses seem out of place at times considering Doriano Magliano’s first performance as Woe, Is Me’s unclean vocalist. With scratchy, gruff unclean vocals that are edgy at their best and hard to listen to at their worst, the breakdowns of Genesi[s] fail to capture the listener’s attention like Number[s] did. Slow, repetitive guitar-chugging and pounding drums that are sure to get the heaviest moshers’ heads bobbing fill the album, but seem forced unoriginal because of their lack of variety or skill. And when paired up with nearly bipolar, catchy choruses that could fit in on a pop punk album, Genesi[s] feels like it’s all over the map. It’s not the worst take on post-hardcore you’ll see this year, but this band is clearly struggling to find itself with so many personnel switches.

Standout Tracks

This happens frequently throughout the album, but in listening to “A Story To Tell,” you’d swear you were listening to A Day To Remember once you get past the epic  trademark Woe, Is Me strings. With unrefined screams, shouted background vocals and a poppy chorus filled with melodic clean vocals, this song serves as the first true glimpse of what this new lineup can do. Alligood shines when he gets the chance to show off his voice, which is a hybrid eerily reminiscent of Ronnie Winter of The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Kyle Pavone of We Came As Romans and Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens. Austin Thornton’s booming drums, Andrew Paiano and Kevin Hanson’s guitar and Brian Medley’s all attack the ears in precise and steady unison to serve as heavy breakdowns, making this a quality look at what to expect from this new lineup at their best.

However, the best song of the album is without a doubt “The Walking Dead,” which features a guest appearance from Memphis May Fire’s Matty Mullins. The brutal breakdowns and catchy choruses are all present, but what makes this song stand out are its attention to detail: subtle touches like the background sirens and dramatic strings give it an edge further enforced by the pleasingly aggressive lyrics: “So now it’s our turn to speak, you’ll have no choice but to hear us out / When we tell them about the truth and how you tried to sell us out / So just look out for yourself, it seems to be your pastime / So here’s your ticket to hell, it seems you missed it last time.”

Featuring the repetitive breakdowns of guitar-chugging and steady drumming that are most likely feeling overdone at this point, “I Came, I Saw, I Conquered”  does have a few neat tricks to liven things up, including a very nifty little breakdown transition comprised of a gun cocking and firing (a la Memphis May Fire). The epic strings return and follow an overly light section of screaming, but this is one of the few sections where Magliano’s throaty bellows are not only bearable, but somewhat engaging.

The Verdict

This newest album has its bright spots, but they don’t quite make up for the large amount of mediocrity that fills the rest of the time. At times, it’s even hard to tell whether this is Woe, Is Me or a weak version of A Day To Remember or Close To Home . The breakdowns aren’t as intelligently brutal, the choruses aren’t as engaging and the clever additions of strings that created drama the first time around aren’t quite as captivating anymore. Genesi[s] largely settles for a lot of repetitive guitar chugging and extended but uninteresting breakdowns, making for a very average followup. And between the unenjoyable unclean vocals and frequent F-bombs dropped within mundane lyrics, the band really doesn’t deliver on the promise shown by Number[s]. With both the post-hardcore elements and the catchy choruses slacking in all respects, Woe, Is Me will have a long way to go in order to win back disappointed fans the next time around. Fans of Attack Attack!, A Day To Remember, Close To Home, Asking Alexandria, Of Mice & Men, Blessthefall, We Came As Romans, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Sleeping With Sirens may find something to enjoy here, but should expect more from a band that can surely improve from here.

Final Score:  5/10

Rank: 2nd (two total albums)

Track List

  1. D-Day
  2. F.Y.I.
  3. A Story To Tell
  4. With Our Friend[s] Behind Us (Feat. Caleb Shomo)
  5. Nothing Left To Lose
  6. The Walking Dead (Feat. Matty Mullins)
  7. I Came, I Saw, I Conquered
  8. Call It Like You See It
  9. I’ve Told You Once
  10. Family First
  11. Nothing Left To Lose (Acoustic)

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Motionless In White: Infamous Review

Motionless In White’s dark and Halloween-inspired debut album was a hard-hitting electronicore experience not meant for the faint of heart, but where Creatures provided catchy choruses to balance things out, Infamous branches further into metal territory with rapid-fire drumming, unrelenting guitar riffs and ferocious screams and growls to set the intimidating, Marilyn Manson-like tone. There are still electronica influences like synthesizers to lighten things up and lead singer Chris Cerulli impresses with his instantaneous switches between blood-curdling screams and surprisingly clairvoyant clean vocals as the band once again centers their songs around exposing hypocrisy in the most aggressive and combative mode possible.

Standout Tracks

Although the majority of Infamous lacks the consistent presence of synthesizers that made Creatures so enjoyable, “Devil’s Night” brings a touch of electronic influence to go with the newer emphasis on incredibly aggressive composition: Angelo Parente’s lightening-quick drumming and the resonant, buzzing riffs and chugging from Ryan Sitkowski and Ricky Olson are topnotch. As the best song of the album, “Devil’s Night” establishing the album’s hardcore vibe and never lets up despite Joshua Balz’s pleasant keyboard and synth additions, which even include some Linkin Park-like turntables.

With its raging electric guitar riffs and and a thrilling and positively spooky chorus, “Burning At Both Ends” is a close second behind “Devil’s Night” for the best song of Infamous. A sultry and compelling bass hook from Devin Sola shines as one of the song’s best moments, but every unstoppable wave of guitar riffs and pounding drums is just as impressive as Cerulli cries out, “I’m holding on to a life I’ll never get back, it’s too hard to let go / I’m on the right train but the wrong tracks, trying not to derail / Nothing is like it was before, I know not who I am anymore / Chasing something that’s behind me, when will I be set free? / Broken promises left to mend, burning the candle at both ends.”

“Sinematic” changes the pace with a brooding and electronic-powered goth ballad that captivates and haunts at the same time. Cerulli’s clean vocals are mystifying and pure at the start, but soon progress into high-pitched wails and raspy shrieks that convey desperate emotion appropriately for such a dramatic and powerful song. As the guitars and synth beats rev up for its climactic finish, it’s impossible not to marvel at this young band’s skill and masterful composition, especially as the humming guitar riff fades out with the sad but stirring piano.

The Verdict

If Creatures was not meant for the faint of heart, Infamous is acceptable for only the most hardcore. With jaw-dropping drum beats and in-your-face guitar-chugging, Motionless In White steps their metalcore sound up to another level with a heavier and downright wicked followup that is entirely superior to its predecessor. If you can stomach this kind of ruthless and tenacious sound with truculent songwriting to boot, Motionless In White’s Infamous may be the album for you. From the welcome guest vocals of Bjorn Speed Strid on the raging “Puppets 2 (The Rain)” to the synth-filled aggression of “If It’s Dead, We’ll Kill It,” Motionless In White goes harder than ever before without straying too far into overwhelming territory. Fans of Miss May I, The Word Alive, Of Mice & Men, Scarlett O’Hara, Memphis May Fire, Marilyn Manson, Asking Alexandria and My Ticket Home will be able to relate to this band’s heavy sound, but not many come close to this kind of well-crafted savagery that just demands playtime on any hardcore fan’s Halloween playlist.

Final Score: 8/10

Rank: 1st (two total albums)

Track List

  1. Black Damask (The Fog)
  2. Devil’s Night
  3. America
  4. Burned At Both Ends
  5. The Divine Infection
  6. Puppets 2 (The Rain)
  7. Sinematic
  8. If It’s Dead, We’ll Kill It
  9. Synthetic Love
  10. Hatef**k
  11. Underdog
  12. Infamous

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A Change Of Pace: An Offer You Can’t Refuse Review

The raw screamo energy unleashed through the whine of electric guitars, the pounding of drums and unrefined melody of the vocals on A Change Of Pace’s sensational debut album makes it a hard-hitting and memorable entry worthy of fans’ attention. And where An Offer You Can’t Refuse falls short in its lack of polish or artistic maturity, the rocking verses, catchy choruses and intelligent songwriting say anything but, especially considering the album was written while several members of the band were still in high school. From its explosive and dark leadoff “Loose Lips Sink Ships” to its upbeat and pop punk-sounding closer, An Offer You Can’t Refuse established A Change Of Pace as a band with musical eclecticism and a bright future on the horizon.

Standout Tracks

Following the killer opener, “Death Do Us Part” offers another heavy song, but this time with a much catchier chorus and less screaming as the album’s best song. Lead singer Torry Jasper’s  aesthetically pleasing vocals fluctuate well between pitches and are phenomenal when set to an infectious backdrop of surging, resonating electric guitar riffs from Adam Rogers and Dan Parker, a deep and groovy bass hook from Johnny Abdullah and a rhythmic drum beat from Jonathan Kelly. And while the subject matter of this song’s lyrics isn’t quite sophisticated, the memorable imagery of each enjoyably raucous chorus is undeniable: “I stole your heart, ripped it out and smashed it on this floor / You have no need for such a useless thing, broken forever more.”

Providing the heaviest song of the album, “Know One Knows” puts the pedal to the metal and doesn’t let up with constant guitar-chugging, booming drums and Jasper’s alternation between throaty screams and distorted background clean vocals. The chorus lets Jasper cut loose even more with anguished wails and screams, but is just catchy enough to keep more casual listeners tuned in. But despite its likable chorus, “Know One Knows” gives an engaging and dramatic look at A Change Of Pace’s post-hardcore side that is sure to please more hardcore fans.

While most of their songs feature a flurry of activity for the verses and catchy choruses, “A Farewell To Friendship” shows A Change Of Pace’s musical versatility with an acoustic ballad that Jasper owns with vocals that are composed when they need to be and strained when his emotion can no longer be contained. The acoustic guitar sets the mood but the addition of string instruments gives it a more sophisticated and refined sound and make it a nice change in tempo for the album.

The Verdict

An Offer You Can’t Refuse has its flaws, but in spite of a few novice moments, A Change Of Pace impresses with a truly absorbing debut. Jasper’s balance between harsh screams and high-pitched singing is extraordinary to behold, even if his vocals are a little rough around the edges at times. And while scaling guitar riffs and fervent drum rhythms are present throughout, the style changes from post-hardcore to pop punk to alternative rock and emo, often within the same song, making the album an incredibly eclectic and all-encompassing experience. Fans of The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Hawthorne Heights, Hit The Lights, Sugarcult, Amber Pacific, The Starting Line, Holiday Parade and Just Surrender should find something to enjoy here, but A Change Of Pace’s appeal extends beyond the boundaries of one single genre. Monitoring this band’s musical progression could be well worth it if they continue to mature and craft new and entertaining music in the future.

Final Score: 7/10

Rank: 2nd (two total albums)

Track List

  1. Loose Lips Sink Ships
  2. Death Do Us Part
  3. Every Second
  4. Asleep At The Wheel
  5. December
  6. Know One Knows
  7. Home Is Where The Heart Is
  8. A Farewell To Friendship
  9. Chippie
  10. Goodbye For Now
  11. Queen Of Hearts

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Silverstein: Discovering The Waterfront Review

The rugged post-hardcore style of Silverstein’s debut was a decent entry into the genre, but their iconic sophomore album Discovering The Waterfront redefines the band and their place amongst their screamo peers. From crisper unclean vocals to more developed and fine-tuned melody, lead singer Shane Told steps his game up in every facet to accompany smart guitar riffs, frantic drumming and an infectious amount of energy that straddles the line between being heavy and being overwhelming. And because of the band’s dexterity in fluidly transitioning between aggressively hardcore and likable harmony, Silverstein delivers a phenomenal second record that would have impressed even without its instantly quotable lyricism. Discovering The Waterfront is not the most profound album in all of rock music, but it’s certainly one of the defining (and in fans’ eyes, most endearing) works to ever grace the screamo genre.

Standout Tracks

Following a high-octane, vivacious leadoff track, “Smile In Your Sleep” keeps the tempo up but also offers a better look at the band’s intelligent songwriting and the powerful emotions behind it. For each brooding chorus characterized with Neil Boshart and Josh Bradford’s pensive guitar riffs, Told paints the scene set to Paul Koehler’s composed drumming. But as the tension builds and Told’s distrust grows, each chorus erupts into a dramatic burst of passion and desperation that shows Told renounce the liar he loves. Between the raw angst of the lyrics and its masterful composition, “Smile In Your Sleep” is an instant classic that embodies Discovering The Waterfront as a whole.

Showcasing their lyrical prowess, “Discovering The Waterfront” is without a doubt one of the finest song in Silverstein’s song library. A heartfelt ballad about moving on from heartbreak, this gem is made memorably by Told’s strenuous vocal performance conveying urgent emotion as Billy Hamilton’s contemplative bass fills each relaxing verse. The chorus lets the emotion pour forth as Told cries out, “I won’t forget you , I’m not gonna let you win / But I’m tired of lying, tired of fighting you and it’s not gonna change.”

While not quite as dynamic or emotional as some of Discovering The Waterfront‘s other offerings, “My Heroine” displays a skilled mix of heavier passions and more subtle melodies to create something uniquely engaging. The hardcore influence is feautured prominently here, but each lighter counterpart of clean vocals balances things nicely as a testament to Silverstein’s ability to include post-hardcore concepts without overpowering a song’s catchy nature or the audience.

The Verdict

When Broken Is Easily Fixed was a decent debut for what it was, but Discovering The Waterfront is Silverstein’s masterpiece. The studio production is better, the clean and unclean vocals are more refined and every buzzing guitar hook and heavy drum beat rings out with clarity and sentiment. But the band’s maturity and skill have progressed as well, as prolific songwriting and lyricism enhances the powerful emotions behind the music. Told impresses in his fluctuation between angry growls and endearing cooing, which allows him a broader range in setting the dramatic mood for each song. This raw intensity is expressed both through throaty screams and softer singing, but both are effective in conveying the intended swirl of feelings: desperation, sadness and yet, hope for the future. Fans of Hawthorne Heights, Alesana, Senses Fail, From First To Last, Underoath, Spitalfield, Story Of The Year, A Day To Remember and Stutterfly will be right at home with this instant classic, which is enough to propel Silverstein to the front of the screamo genre. Straddling the border between catchy and hardcore is a delicate tightrope act that is part of the joy of the post-hardcore genre, but Silverstein passes with flying colors with Discovering The Waterfront.

Final Score: 9.1/10

Rank: 2nd (six total albums)

Track List

  1. Your Sword Versus My Dagger
  2. Smile In Your Sleep
  3. The Ides Of March
  4. Fist Wrapped In Blood
  5. Discovering The Waterfront
  6. Defend You
  7. My Heroine
  8. Always And Never
  9. Already Dead
  10. Three Hours Back
  11. Call It Karma
  12. Rodeo Clown

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Hawthorne Heights: The Silence In Black And White Review

Hawthorne Heights found instant success off one hit single, but this emo band’s impressive debut album shouldn’t be overlooked as a whole either. With pensive guitar riffs, hushed clean vocals for melody and harsh unclean vocals for power, The Silence In Black And White is an incredibly thought-provoking and well-composed work, with enough emotion to make it endearing but also enough post-hardcore verve to please a more hardcore crowd. Each song retains the steady and brooding tone of the album, even when slow guitar chugs and consistent drumming explode into blazing riffs and furious pounding. Frontman JT Woodruff sets the mood with his light-sounding but solemn and often dramatic singing, while the Casey Calvert supplies the throaty and guttural howls that make Hawthorne Heights so well-balanced. The give and take of the vocalists, set to an ever-fluctuating tempo, creates dramatic tension and makes this emo debut such an enjoyable listen.

Standout Tracks

Despite its slightly stalker-ish and morbid theme (“I’m outside of your window with my radio”), “Niki FM” is one of the most dynamic tracks of The Silence In Black And White, featuring not only Calvert’s coarse screams but Woodruff’s escalated wails as well, which accompany Micah Carli’s barrage of angry guitar riffs and Eron Bucciarelli’s booming drums. Matt Ridenour’s brooding bass hook sets the tone for each composed verse, allowing Woodruff’s soft and restrained singing to create the calm before the storm of each chorus.

“The Transition” boasts some the engaging whine of electric guitars, animated drums and Woodruff’s desperate cries of longing, “I won’t let go!” The eccentric and high-pitched whine of guitars serves as the highlight of the song, but its escalation between a reserved and grave tone to energetic and impassioned is just as captivating, displayed best by Woodruff’s many repetitions of “Shine on, diamond eyes.” Like many of Hawthorne Heights’ best songs, “The Transition” focuses largely on the yearning for a distant lover, but its raw sound and indelible liveliness make it even more memorable.

But even though The Silence In Black In White is littered with desperate, emotive and compelling songs, “Ohio Is For Lovers” easily takes the title of best on the album after help paving the way for screamo music’s popularity. As the song that brought Hawthorne Heights all its fame and success, “Ohio Is For Lovers” best summarizes what this band is all about: quiet, pensive verses filled with reserved vocals and soothing guitars that quickly unleash all the torment and urgency of the lyrics in a killer and fast-paced chorus. Calvert’s screams add to the heavy sound of slow guitar-chugging while Woodruff delivers the unforgettable lines of each emo-primed chorus: “And I can’t make it on my own / Because my heart is in Ohio / So cut my wrists and black my eyes / So I can fall asleep tonight or die / Because you kill me.”

The Verdict

Although Hawthorne Heights isn’t the kind of band to make music for the masses because of their post-hardcore sound and teen-centered emo lyrics, The Silence In Black In White is a pretty good album for any hard rock fan to enjoy. Fans of Silverstein, Senses Fail, Aiden, Armor For Sleep, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Alesana, From First To Last and The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus should be right at home with this heavy and affecting debut, even if Woodruff’s whiny vocal style and Calvert’s gruff screams may not be fore everyone. However, the exquisite interplay between lead guitar, rhythm guitar and bass is too engaging to miss, regardless of vocal preference. This kind of music will appeal to a younger crowd more than anyone, but Hawthorne Heights displays mature songwriting and intelligent composition worthy of recognition for the compelling The Silence In Black And White.

Final Score: 8.5/10

Rank: 1st (four total albums)

Track List

  1. Life On Standby
  2. Dissolve And Decay
  3. Niki FM
  4. The Transition
  5. Blue Burns Orange
  6. Silver Bullet
  7. Screenwriting An Apology
  8. Ohio Is For Lovers
  9. Wake Up Call
  10. Sandpaper And Silk
  11. Speeding Up The Octaves

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