Kills and Thrills - Showstopper (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Kills and Thrills

Showstopper (2008)


Though the style certainly has its standout bands, Kills and Thrills have a large stake in the modern era of post-hardcore and they come to be a mere victim of its trap-falls on their debut EP. Showstopper largely comes off as a much less heavy and overall poor, unimpressive mimicking of the more screamy post-hardcore aspects of Underoath's last few efforts.

They even have a keyboard and primarily thank God in the liner notes. Now, there's nothing inherently wrong with either of these things, but the programming seems a pointless, uncreative layer and it is admittedly discomforting to read such a thing after noticing such stark similarities. Maybe Kills and Thrills have no intentions whatsoever of becoming Long Island's prime answer to Underoath, but factors like this are hard to ignore. In addition, there's just a pinch of sass in the yelped vocals that fail to help matters. In their frail hands, the sound becomes thin and forced, moist with melodrama and stripped of the suspense that make Underoath the leaders of their niche. Songs like "Code Blue" and "This Wasn't in the Script" have weak breakdown vibes running through them and a bit of cheese in the general atmosphere, straining to make an impact but falling too far short.

This is unfortunate, because there's one song on Showstopper that proves Kills and Thrills have the potential for so, so much better. Amongst the muck is "Transylvania Twist," a very decent song despite its middling lyrics. The chorus is even better, where the pain in the slurred vocals ("the streets have gone black, with the night / of the living and the dead") is entirely more sincere (even despite obvious multi-tracking) and the following gang shouts are punctual. Hands down, the best moment comes when frontman Chris Vetter yelps, "The wolves are here to feed!"; it's absolutely mint, and seems to more cleanly channel the genius, dark dynamics of anything Brand New's done since those Fight Off Your Demons demos leaked nearly three years ago.

Showstopper is too often dispensable and entrenched in the tacky tactics that make most bands with a keyboard and screamed vocals in the MySpace generation a joke. If and when they go full-time with the focus displayed in "Transylvania Twist," Kills and Thrills will be a force to be reckoned with. For now, on with the show.

Code Blue
You're What the French Call...Les Incompetants
Transylvania Twist
This Wasn't in the Script