I always thought Greeley Estates were one of the better bands to come out of the nü-emo/metalcore hybrid explosion of the 2000s when compared to their contemporaries in bands like Blessthefall or Eyes Set to Kill. Their clean vocals were never overused or out of place; the other vocalist wasn’t too Cookie Monster Metal Man®; and their breakdowns were never the main focus of the songwriting. But The Death of Greeley Estates falters in places where the band should know better already, which makes it all the more disappointing.
“Friendly Neighborhood Visit” is probably one of the best Greeley Estate songs period, and the kind of thing you wish would have carried over to the rest of the album. It is short, fast, and to the point, moved forward by a steady punk drum beat, and the breakdown makes sense in the context of the song. There is also some choir-like backup vocals that work surprisingly well and add emotional weight to a song about domestic violence. Considering all the songs that have cropped up in the genre advocating violence against women and general bullshit violence, I can always commend a band making a stand against it. Besides the content, the lyrics are just really solid, direct enough for an aggressive song like this but still really thoughtful. Another thing that works well on “Friendly Neighborhood Visit” is the effects the band uses. While its use is pretty subtle on that track, it plays a prominent role on “A Thousand Burning Forests”. The twinkly guitars, the delay effect and the occasional well-placed reverb on the vocals help orchestrate a delightful tension in the song. My only complaint in the dynamic “A Thousand Burning Forests” presents is the release in the form of the breakdown. As far as breakdowns go it is kind of generic and does nothing to satisfy the promise of the rest of the song. It would have been better if the band had kept the same basic structure the rest of the song but increased the volume and noise for a crescendo instead.
What ends up bringing down the album is actually the band's use of the breakdown. I’m not sure they've relied on it anywhere else in their catalog as much as they do on The Death of Greeley Estates. Maybe it wouldn't seem so bad if they felt a little more inspired, but a lot of the time they feel like they have run out of ideas so they decide they are just going to throw in a breakdown for the sake of it. The breakdowns aren't the only things that bring down the flow of the album, however, as there are two completely unnecessary interludes that are about as enjoyable as the ever-popular skit on a hip-hop record. These things are really quiet bits of noise and maybe they are supposed to set the mood or something, but the only mood I get after listening to them is grumpy because they have stifled the listening experience for me. These aren't useful or good, so if you are in a band reading this, leave any and all interludes and skits out of your records unless they actually add something (they almost always never add anything).
It feels like Greeley Estates have released their awkward third album on The Death of Greeley Estates, except it is their fifth one. There is arguably some of the band’s best material on here, but also some of their most uninspired too. You can sense the band reaches back a bit in their history for some post-hardcore influence here, and if they continue to build on that into a metalcore context I could see them making the best record of their career. This isn't a half-bad stepping stone, though.