Hello again and welcome to another album review!

Today we’re going to review an album, which serves as a clear example of my words regarding the metalcore genre. Recently, on my Russian-speaking YouTube channel, my subscribers asked me why does this genre fall down in quality and creativtiy. I replied: “that’s because the metalcore genre is dead already and the biggest majority of young bands are only beating the dead horse, trying to grab some of the listeners’ attention”.

It is necessary to keep in mind that contemporary metalcore scene only exists because of the old bands. That’s because of the fact that they managed to create something different and more creative in this genre, while the rest was playing generic breakdowns and guitar riffs. As for the current album, I really hope that these guys will eventually find their own approach and their own sound based on metalcore style. For now, their album is mediocre at best. Let me explain, why.

Brief intro

Villain of the Story – it’s really not the best name for a metal band IMO; however, who am I to judge if the band members and their fans like it. It’s a young American metal band that decided to release an album in a genre that was over-saturated even several years ago. I don’t know the reason, but they’ve done it. What is more interesting about this band, I wouldn’t even consider to listen this album if it wasn’t for my subscriber’s request. So, here it goes.

Album’s title and cover art

It’s called “Ashes” and I cannot even give you a reason, why anyone should listen to it. Especially, when you’ve still got albums of older and more popular metalcore bands. Also, that’s because of the fact that I, as a listener, did not like an array of things in it. Moreover, there was also a plethora of things spoiling the album.

As for the cover art, I can’t even give it a brief characteristic because there’s nothing really outstanding about it. A combination of dark colors with some blurry symbols that have no relation to the album whatsover. Let’s move on to the album’s conceptual framework, if we can call it that way.

 Album’s concept

With every album review, I try to figure out the album’s concept and figure out, what it’s all about. With this album, it’s simple – it’s just a complication of various themes of resisting different adversities, believing in personal strengths along with depressive themes of fears and anxieties etc. In other words, these themes are almost identical to the same of the metalcore albums of 2006-2008.

I can understand, why the “old-school” or “classic” metalcore bands use the same topics over and over in their songs. It’s just because of the fact that those songs and those themes brought them fame long ago. That’s why they need to follow this approach in order to maintain their popularity levels. But I don’t understand another issue. Why do the young band sing about the same stuff? Why don’t they want to introduce something new in terms of conceptual meaning? Dunno.

Musical content

So, from the musical standpoint, here we’ve got a clashing mixture of sounds inspired by Attack Attack! and Motionless in White. Therefore, the guitar tone here is really low and it seems that these guys play 7-string guitars just to sound heavier. And, what is more important, I reallly liked their groovy riffs in tracks’ introductory parts.

What I did not like about the instrumentation, is the further transitions after these riffs. That’s because in majority of tracks we’ve got a couple of notes playing verses with 3-4 generic power chords playing the choruses. Next, these are followed by nice intro-riffs or by dully breakdowns.

Seriously, hearing the same breakdowns from band to band and from track to tracks really grinds my gears. Moreover, this doubtful instrumentation never benefits from guitar solos. Guyess why? Because they’re primitive, as well. Track “Without You” is a bright example.

But it’s not that bad tbh…

You know that I’m a real musical snob and can really sound picky in terms of albums. Nonetheless, if you are a normal person and don’t dig deep into details, I’ve got to assure you that you’ll find quite decent instrumentation here. That’s even despite the fact that I don’t like the drums here because they’re mixed really poorly.

Vocals…meh

What is worse about the musical content of the album, is the use of vocals. Both clean and extreme vocals. You can somehow endure the autotuned clean vocals because of really interesting and unique timbre of vocalist’s voice. I really wish that his vox was not so over-infused with various effects. It would have sounded close to Bury Tomorrow’s clean vocals, which I really like.

As for the screams, I don’t know what to say. We can joke that “it’s the year 2005 on the line, they want you to return them their scream tone” but it won’t make the picture brigther. You see, in 2005-2008, it was quite trendy among the metal bands to include as much distortion on screams as possible. As a result, the screams included in those albums sounded like overdriven whispers. That’s how the scream sounds on this album.

I really wish they wouldn’t include the screams or created more contemporary tone out of it. Using post-processing effects, of course. To be frank, I sincerely think that with clean vocals only, the album would sound much better.

Lyrics

The themes of lyrics are the same and never changing. It’s either about suffering from anxiety/depression or trying to fight various emotional or material adversities. It is widely used practice to use these themes in various core genres; that’s why there’s nothing new to talk about.

What is more important, these young guys don’t even want to follow the example of currently successful bands. Take Coverge or Architects, they try to express their experiences or emotions in a really indirect and artistic manner. Parkway Drive or Bury Tommorow try to create a unique atmosphere that will complement the album’s sound.

And? What do we have here instead? Something like “I don’t want to be afraid but I’m afraid” or “I have to find a way to fight misery inside of me!” Applause everyone! Very insightful!

Final thoughts

For those of you, who believe that only rappers have repetitive lyrics, you’ve got an example that metal bands can also be this way, as well. In total, for relatively decent metal riffs that were really punchy and groovy and for the rest of the mess mentioned above, I’d rate it 2 out of 5. Just because of the fact that in total, the album makes you rather bored than interested.

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