Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Attack Attack! - Attack Attack!

1. Sexual Man Chocolate
2. Renob, Nevada
3. "I Swear I'll Change"
4. Shut Your Mouth (feat. McSwagger)
5. A for Andrew
6. Smokahontas
7. AC-130
8. Fumbles O'Brian
9. Turbo Swag
10. Lonely (feat. Jason Cameron)


I’m sure we’re all aware of last year’s shitfest of Attack Attack busting out on the scene. The term crabcore was tossed around a few times and it eventually stuck to bands who use silly choreographed moves and squatting low enough in those skinny jeans to make is sure that they would never have kids in the future. Since their hilariously awful video for “Stick Stickly” appeared, I’m sure they’ve endured their fair share of embarrassment. They’ve lost their vocalist, having their keyboardist step up to the plate as the group write their new album. What will happen? Will they redeem themselves or will they continue on with the crabcore tripe?
Well, upon first listen, I was surprised. They seemed to have stepped up their game, taking on a dark atmospheric turn on the generic metalcore sound, which honestly wasn’t all that bad. Everything has improved on these first few tracks. There are some real riffs here and there, synths are being put to better use in building mood and atmosphere, and vocals are better in the way of Shomo’s screams. Franck’s clean vocals are still clearly processed and pitch-corrected, but they tried to make it less obvious and obnoxious. Through the first three tracks, I must say, I wasn’t having a bad time, as ashamed as I may be. But I’m not going to lie to you people. Track 2, “Renob, Nevada” sounds like a lazier As I Lay Dying without the cool riffs. The Devil Wears Prada, if you will.

However, what goes up, must come down. Track 4, “Shut Your Mouth”, plays like an N*Sync or Backstreet Boys remix and is very, very terrible. That song passes, and track 5, “A For Andrew” comes back into a not so terrible sound, with a groovy guitar riff. Aside from the terrible chorus, this song would be pretty cool. “Smokahontas” goes from ‘eh, not so bad’ to electronic dance breakdown, but not as near as bad as the one you’ve heard before in “Stick Stickly.” The song ends in your average *chug chug* breakdown.
“AC-130″ sounds like a collection of djent breakdowns, only without the polyrhythms, leading me to believe that this album, when charted on a graph, keeps going downhill exponentially. And on that note, “Fumbles O’Brian” starts out as if it’s a T-Payne/Lil Wayne mixtape, which brought this reviewer to facepalm and regret enjoying the first couple of songs. If you want people to take you seriously and stop giving you shit, don’t scream “ATTACK ATTACK IS BACK BABY! AHAHA!” in autotune over a terrible synth beat. They later use the word “Shawty.” Seriously?!
“Turbo Swag” takes things on an upswing that goes nowhere, as the final song, “Lonely” is a modern R&B ballad that, while it is catchy (if I ever have this stuck in my head, I will be SO pissed), will serve as nothing more than ironic scene bile.
Make no mistake about it, Attack Attack are still a bunch of scene kids who like to throw some metalcore into their dance music (or vice-versa?). However, this album does take a step up on some tracks. I would not recommend listening to much beyond the first three tracks, but this is the best they’ve come up with at this point. If they continue on this path of growth in future releases, they may not be a mockery for much longer

In The Midst Of Lions - Out Of Darkness

In The Midst Of Lions Album Art

Rating: 7.4

Site: In The Midst Of Lions
Label: Strike First Records
Release Date: 5/26/2009

1. Awaken The Dawn
2. Tongues Of Fire
3. Out Of Darkness
4. Field Of Blood
5. Paid In Full
6. Manifesto
7. Crucifixion And Burial
8. He Is Risen
9. Herod's Demise
10. Into The Light

I'll be honest, I had never heard of In The Midst Of Lions prior to receiving their Strike First Records debut Out Of Darkness for review. This could by my fault, as I've been slightly out of the loop when it comes to new music, but I think a more reasonable reason would be that the "deathcore" genre has become a well-oiled machine, and has been spitting out so many bands that it's getting extremely hard to keep up with every new face that comes to the surface.
Out Of Darkness opens with "Awaken The Dawn", a lame instrumental intro, featuring a cheesy piano melody and a sample of someone reading a selection out of what I assume is the Bible. I had to try extremely hard to not to turn the record off and walk away right then, but I managed to keep listening, in hopes that the next song would make up for the first. The second track, titled "Tounges Of Fire", opens with those same'ol twang-filled Meshuggah riffs that are becoming all too common in heavy music these days, along with a pretty hoss vocal spit. Though it was a billion times better than the intro track, I still wasn't very impressed with the material. I pressed forward into the record, hoping for something that really pulled me in to the music. Anything at all. Then as track four, titled "The Field Of Blood", rolled around, I heard something that I truely was not expecting. At around the 1:45 mark, I heard some almost post-hardcore influences thrown in the mix, reminiscent of modern acts such as Life In Your Way and early Boys Night Out. I found these influences again during the first 10 seconds or so of the song "Manifesto". Finally, some signs that this band, with a lot of work, might actually be able to build themselves a sound that sets them apart from everyone else in the already crowded "deathcore" scene. Sadly though, the record came to an end just as it began, which really bummed me out.
All in all, I don't really know what to expect from In The Midst Of Lions in the future. Will they just be another band living in Impending Doom's shadow? Will they find a sound that is truely theirs? The answer remains to be seen. If you're a fan of modern tech-metal/deathcore and bands like Meshuggah, Whitechapel, & Veil Of Maya, I'd pick up Out Of Darkness soon. If you're the kind of person who is looking for something that will stand out in your record collection and pushes the genre in a new direction, I'd wait and see where In The Midst Of Lions takes their next release.

For Today - Breaker

Score: 8.5
Stream: “Arm The Masses”

If not for the awkward, almost rap-like spoken word tracks, Breaker would have received an even higher score than this. That being said, For Today have returned stronger than ever. Other than pulling out all the stops, the band has also managed to make everything feel more epic and large in sound. “Devastator” does an excellent job in kicking things off, making the walls around you crumble as the words “I will stand behind the savior / As he burns your kingdom down” bellow forth. The best part about this album is its originality. Most hardcore releases of this type are pretty straight forward, but not Breaker. While, yes, the vocals are primarily the style you would expect from a band of this genre, there is some deviation from time to time that prove successful in broadening the vocal sound (“Arm The Masses”, for example). As the album plays through, For Today offers up a little bit of everything when it comes to heavy music: breakdowns, growls, gang vocals, double bass…it may sound unoriginal when listing it so, but it actually sounds quite unique and memorable as a result. Breaker is brutal, intense, energetic, diverse, and ultimately recommended again and again. You really should pick this one up as soon as possible. (NL)


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