After six months of inactivity, Hopeless Records breaks their own silence with Near Life Experience, the debut record from Chicago quintet Break The Silence. Hyping the record for months, I can't help but feel just a little bit cheated.
Break The Silence was promised to be the "rebirth" of Hopeless as a legitimate label - a furious, no frills, honest-to-god melodic hardcore band. But that's just it; Break The Silence has no frills whatsoever.
Their sound is essentially one of Mr. Precision [formerly of 88 Fingers Louie and Rise Against] playing really stiff metal riffs, with the rest of the band playing catchup for the majority of the album. Some people call his style "technical metal," I just call it showboating. Singer Dan has a powerful scream, but it's much too overused throughout the album to have any sort of lasting impact on the listener. Of course, the alternative is the stereotypical whiny punk "balls in a vice" sound, which Dan also posesses. Think the Tony Sly's voice from the past two No Use For A Name albums fused with whatever the big screamy hardcore band is right now, and that's what he sounds like. Luckily, Much The Same singer Gunner appears on a few tracks with backup vocals, salvaging what otherwise is a wholeheartedly nondescript voice.
The band's 14 songs all pretty much follow the same path beaten years before them. Good Riddance did this better, Propagandhi did this better, Kid Dynamite did this way better. The band does succeed in the melody department at times, though. "Moving Day" is a melodic gem reminiscent of early Rise Against, and is probably my favorite track on the record.
There are some interesting song structures being toyed with here, and the band experiments a lot with just what rhythm you can fit into a 4/4 bar [see "The Likes Of Me" for proof]. "Iris" is a good straight-up hardcore gem, almost ruined by the added "woahs" in the chorus giving it just enough padding for a prepubescent's ears. The band also covers At The Gates' "Slaughter Of The Soul" - not being familiar with the original, I couldn't tell you how good of a job they did, but it's there nonetheless as the most brutal and metal track on the disc.
Break The Silence won't be the next big thing; they won't be signing a million dollar record deal with Dreamworks anytime soon; they almost certainly won't be around in 10 years. There is no longevity in this music. The record is comfortably mediocre, pushing towards greatness at moments but being dragged back down into it's own doldrums due to the generic sound it posesses. Potential is here, though - unfortunately it won't ever be realized as long as Break The Silence is referred to as "that band with Mr. Precision in it."
Six Foot Revolver