The Drowning Men - All of the Unknown (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Drowning Men

All of the Unknown (2012)

Borstal Beat Records

At their best, the Drowning Men recall the Arcade Fire's grandiosity with a dash of the Gaslight Anthem's soul. Unfortunately, their best is only seen in glimpses on new album All of the Unknown. It's a very middle of the road record, and while there's nothing especially wrong with it, there's nothing especially great about it either.

The nicest and most cynical thing I can about All of the Unknown is that it's an agreeable, safe record, the kind that could end up on rock radio alongside acts like Airborne Toxic Event. The songs are pleasant, competent and really easy to damn with faint praise. You could play this album at a party and everyone would be just OK with it. Not annoyed. Not excited. Just…OK.

And that's really I can say about the Drowning Men. Quoth NOFX, "the desperation's gone." All of the Unknown is so thoroughly pleasant, so inoffensive, so hell bent on being adequate that it doesn't really inspire much feeling. Nato Bardeen's vocals are decent. The guitars are…there. The tempos aren't too slow, but not all too fast ‘n' fierce either. All in all, the material is just so damn vanilla. Quality-wise, the Drowning Men occupy the very middle of what an opening band should be: agreeable, but kind of forgettable. I can totally see myself hitting the bar while these guys open a show and not minding them all that much, but there is just nothing going on here. There are many, many bands that are worse than the Drowning Men. But there are whole lot of bands that are better too.