I was all ready to peg this album as one of the year's most token metalcore releases, and then I heard the track "Struck by Lightning" and I had to rethink my approach a little bit. But then, I listened to the rest of this album, and was essentially back to square one. So just where does square one place Mercury Switch? Even now, that's a bit cloudy.
Now herein lies my problem. Time to Shine honestly has two very separate, but very distinct personalities. The problem is, it's the worse side of that personality that sees the most time on this album. So it's that personality I'll first discuss. The first track, "Valley of Vengeance," perfectly exemplifies what I'm talking about. Quick blast-beats, thunderous breakdowns, and some pretty standard vocals all add up to what's in effect an extremely boring product. The guitar work seems to be sort of lazy, and even though it's above average for the genre, that doesn't place it very high on the food chain anyhow. The screamed and growled vocals don't do much to deter from the boredom of the song, and it's not that they don't try to inject some life, but if the riffs and chord progressions underneath are boring as it is; there's just not a lot to build on. Towards the end there's some speedy playing that gives a shot of vigor, but it's all too short lived.
"Hallow Ayes" follows in that exact same vein, and is almost inseparable from the first track were it not for some sung vocals that slow things down. And oddly, where I'd usually have such a problem with those sort of vocals, they don't sound half-bad. But then the breakdown hits, and it's back to the same boring display of earlier.
Then "Struck by Lightning" comes on, and everything is turned upside down.
Not in the chaotic way you would think, but because the band has morphed themselves into Cave In. The spacey atmosphere and airy vocals glide effortlessly over some slow, but present riffing, until the metalcore shortly returns. The song really could have done without any screamed vocals or power chords, and before the duration is over, they return to that spacey style. It doesn't make another appearance until "The Invitation of the Reaper, Pt. 4: Standing on the Edge of Reason," where the vocals are wistfully carried on some beautiful acoustic guitar work. It's really weird that this departure from their normal sound doesn't appear contrived in the least, and I really wish this kind of sound was afforded more time to expand. The singer's voice is pristine and beautiful, and the breakdowns just don't do him justice.
If ever there was a band having an identity crisis, this is it. They just can't seem to figure out if they want to be Cave In or Bleeding Through, and while the choice should be obvious, they need to take a little more time to figure out which direction will result in a bit of longevity. I'll start them out with a hint:
Nobody will be moshing.