There's just not the same market for token metalcore releases anymore. From Autumn to Ashes and Poison the Well are likely seeing their popularity wane by the day. And maybe it's for no other reason than the fickle, trend-following public, at no fault of those bands' artistic merit, or lack thereof. In any event, nobody slipped this information onto the desks of anyone at Sold State Records, because I'm reviewing the latest effort from Haste the Day, When Everything Falls.
This album seems to be a sort of clusterfuck at times, like the band is trying to emulate At the Gates one moment, then Fuel the next. Lead singer Jimmy Ryan has a great, forceful scream that is obviously crafted in the Scandinavian black metal tradition. The Fuel comparison sees life when either the bassist or guitarist attempt to sing, quickly turning a raging metal track into TRL nü-metal fodder. The album-closing "Long Way Down" represents precisely what I'm referring to. Only this song is reversed, more so dominated by the poor singing than the screaming with very basic rhythms and guitars that are barely audible. It's only somewhat saved with a guitar solo at the very end that's far too little, far too late. What started very promising and ended promising cannot account for the filler between it. “Fallen” begins things with some chunky guitar riffs, leading into Ryan’s harsh vocals and some guitar squalling while the pace keeps increasing in speed. Though, then the singing comes in, and all momentum is seemingly lost.
“The Perfect Night” suffers a similar fate, starting with promise, and quickly sinking into territory far below mediocre. That’s what’s so disheartening about this album as a whole, is that the band are obviously extremely competent and cohesive musicians, but the structures of the songs don’t allow them any chance to show off the skill. The one bright spot in this cloudy, muddled album has to be the cliché song title of the year award winner, “Bleed Alone.”
Regardless of the name, for two minutes and thirteen seconds, the song effectively ravages your speakers and ears in a fury of lightning quick chord progressions, relentless and sound drumming, and terrific vocals. What makes the vocals here stand out? There’s no singing. Not two nor twenty seconds of it, and for that, the song stands out far and above the rest. That is, until the acoustic “Instrumental” breaks in to show the band's ‘diversity.’ Right. Crap, pure, and utter crap. Speaking of which, don’t bother looking at the liner notes, as there’s nothing of merit to be found anywhere in there; "The beauty in your eyes still sustains me / And I know if were to spit in your face / You would take me back / You would love me / You would take me back / If I were to stab you in the heart / You would bleed for me as if it made you happy." You get the idea.
This is essentially just a very frustrating release. The band sounds like Darkest Hour at times, but the singing ends that comparison quickly. There’s small dashes of greatness, and spots of talent and good songwriting, but it’s thrown by the wayside in favor of fad and formula. The singing can even become, dare I say, catchy, as in “All I Have,” but it’s still formulaic, contrived, and really, not all that good. If more kids start staying away from releases like this, maybe we’ll all win, and they’ll disappear altogether.