Love Equals Death - Nightmerica (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Love Equals Death

Nightmerica (2006)

Fat Wreck Chords

I try to have an open mind about music. I respect the bands Fat chooses to sign, because generally they don't let me down. Unfortunately, disappointment is bound to happen sooner or later.

Let me start by saying that Nightmerica is not a terrible record. The intro track, "Bombs Over Brooklyn," boasts a good mid-tempo riff structure with vocalist Chon Travis belting out some very Davey Havok-esque crooning & screaming.

Fact of the matter is, a lot of this album sounds like older AFI, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Some of the call-and-answer choruses can get a little played-out and sound forced, but the real confusion comes when the band tries to completely change styles on a few songs.

After the first 2 songs showcase some high energy, the 3rd track, "Lottery," comes off as rather stale and lethargic. The gloomy vocals are only surpassed by some seemingly uninspired lyrics. Simplistic and tiresome, the song just seems to drag on.

The attempt at diversity is again revisited in the band's first single, "Pray for Me." Again, we're hearing yet another style. The whiny vocals combined with the high-pitched "aaaahhhaaaaaaaaaaaaa-uhhhhhhhhh-uhhhhhhhhh-ohhhhhhhhh" create almost a ping of annoyance in the listener's ear. The chorus lyrics, inserted between the "gang whines," really do this one in;

I want you to be my lover,
And I don't want to face another night like this,
And these lips won't touch another,
Not as long as there's a longing for your kiss
But I regress. There are certainly some great songs on this album. Chon has great range in his vocals, and the musicanship is extremely tight, even on the tracks I didn't care for. I don't have a bias against the love songs or slow jams, but I really think these fellas should work on establishing a firm identity on their sound before expanding in so many directions. This record is just all over the map. One minute we've got some Goth Bay hardcore, the next we've got Morrissey.

We're jolted by another curveball on the album closer, "Truth Has Failed." Ironically, this one is really a great song. The slower, piano-driven melody intermingled with acoustic guitars and softer backing vocals blend into a very harmonically pleasing end to a seemingly chaotic record. Maybe this was the initial intention, but my focus dwindled along the way.

Let me stress again, Love Equals Death is not a bad band, and Nightmerica has some really good songs. But the album itself lacks direction and seems almost rushed. Had a few songs been plucked to put out an EP, or maybe the band focused on a style, and then moved towards evolving that into another sound, they could be HUGE. But there's just too much going on for one album. Especially from a band that many are not too familiar with.