Review : I See Stars - The End Of The World Party
SputnikmusicLet’s be honest… No matter how well it may be performed, synth-core is a style of music which will always have its detractors. Whether you want to call it electronicore, screamocore, crabcore or crab chowder, it is a genre difficult not to make fun of due to its over the top characteristics, dubious artistic merit, and perception that it is a gimmicky fad that won’t even outlast nu-metal. While young Michigan sextet I See Stars did not exactly make cynics eat their words with debut LP ‘3-D’, their combination of metalcore drumming, synth-heavy breakdowns and dual clean & screaming vocals did make a few briefly re-think their stance on the sound’s potential. To that extent, the band’s follow-up release was always going to be interesting and, dare I say, even important.
The lead single and title track begins ‘The End of the World Party’ as you would expect… Spacey synths, pounding drums and Zach Johnson’s growling screams sandwich Devin Oliver’s catchy clean vocals, which contain an acceptable amount of auto-tune considering the theme of the track (an outer space party marking the end of the world!). This album highlight may be simply structured, but it contains - and nicely refines - all of the elements which fans of ‘3-D’ enjoyed. As soon as what appears to be Owl City’s ‘Fireflies’ (read: track 2 ‘Over It’) begins however, it is clear that this album will be anything but ‘3-D Part 2’. The simple, but soaring, guitars of the following ‘Still Not Quite Enough’ (which just happens to carry a disconcertingly Owl City like spoken word bridge), all but confirm the pop-punk leanings which are to follow.
Even though only 4 of the 11 tracks are completely devoid of screaming, it is clear that Johnson’s growling vocals have been markedly toned down to only complement the melodic cleans this time around. This, in itself, is not necessarily a bad decision, however the subsequent greater reliance on Oliver results in an overdose of mind-numbing auto-tune, reducing the effectiveness of even the better songs here. Likely to be the album’s barometer, the triumvirate of tracks which make up the mid-section of the LP ups the pitch correction technology to ridiculous levels, dumbs down the lyrics to the point where anybody out of high school will feel physically ill, and pumps the catchiness levels with enough sugar to fuel a candy store for a year. ‘Home for the Weekend’ is just plain awful, but both ‘It Will Be Up (High School Never Ends)’ and ‘Upside Down’ are infuriatingly infectious, no matter how much you want to hate them....full text
ThenewreviewElectronicore, crabcore, synthcore. Many are the “subgenres” metalcore/post-hardcore bands that infuse their music with electronic and synth adopt. They include, but are not limited to, auto-tuned vocals, dubstep-esque synthesizer passages and loads and loads of uninspired breakdowns. It’s certainly not the most popular kind of music, and stands on the SHUNNED! shelf next to bands such as Brokencyde. Bands like Attack Attack!, Asking Alexandria and Abandon All Ships also build on this sound, some more successfully than others.
I See Stars is no exception to this rule. Adored by some, despised by others, this sextet from Warren, Michigan are a band that draw influence from post-hardcore, electronic music and pop. After their debut LP on Sumerian Records, 3-D, I See Stars now releases The End of the World Party. First is first: it is nothing like 3-D. The band replaced a lot of the elements exemplified on their first album for a more accessible, mainstream sound.
The band’s debut album wasn’t groundbreaking, but managed to carry itself. Fans outside the genre wouldn’t enjoy it, but for those who enjoy post-hardcore it was a decent effort. The band’s spacey, ambient guitar riffs were similar to Of Machines or even Oceana’s first release, The Tide. The balance between Devin Oliver’s sugar-coated clean vocals and Zach Johnson’s high register screams were much of what made 3-D as popular as it was amongst the “synthcore” scene. What does nothing for this band is the amount of auto-tune they administer to their music. I See Stars borders on being excessive in their use of auto-tune, but manages to be tolerable, unlike genre-mates Attack Attack! or Breathe Carolina....full text
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