Therefore I Am - The Sound of Human Lives (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Therefore I Am

The Sound of Human Lives (2009)

Equal Vision

Therefore I Am are not the easiest band to peg. They play a sort of modern, progressive take on (post-)hardcore, but just saying that seems misleading. It certainly isn't as heavy or aggressive as most of what Deathwish or Bridge 9 is releasing, but it's assuredly more intense than, say, Circa Survive. So does that mean they're one of those newfangled, hokey melodic bands? Yes and no. The Sound of Human Lives isn't quite as cheesy as a band like, say, Vanna, who they just so happen to associate with through a previous split EP and ex-shared member(s). Or, God forbid, A Day to Remember. No no no. So where exactly they do lie?

Wherever, really. That's not the difficulty in determining Human Lives' worth. Therefore I Am are clearly deviating from a number of scenes well-wishers would probably like to lump them in, but the question is, how effective are all these more original and unique ideas? Really only somewhat.

"Death by Fire" opens with a menacing spoken word part and some interspersed gang shouts that actually punctuate things well. Frontman Alex Correria's grainy scream then gives us a more clear picture of what Therefore I Am aim for, with guitars that interchange between basic, choppy riffs, more melodic pacing and heavier strums, with the structure jumping at every turn. It's nice to hear a little ambition but the track just seems a bit confused more than anything. Correria gets especially dynamic in the more realized "Eleven, Seventeen," facilitating between a flimsily yelped vocal style someone might call "emo" -- dude honestly sounds like Bert McCracken or someone at some points -- and a much more invigorating one with some grit and gravel to it in the double- or triple-tracked chorus. The latter of these vocal styles in the song helping make for one of Lives' brighter moments, notably when Chris Fernandes skitters along some cymbals and the guitars swirl and pound impressively á la the Receiving End of Sirens (another close associate of TIA's and apt comparison for some of the album, notably electronic, spacey closer "You Leave"). The title track has some interesting balladic vibes without getting too ridiculous, while a contrast is made for the following, more screamy jawn, "I Am Only an Island," but nothing hits too hard to make a lasting impact.

Otherwise, these attempts at building varied layers of guitar atmosphere -- half the time -- sound more clustered than entrancing. When they work, though, it's nice, like the Cave In nods in "For the Sake of Skin" and the same for "A Face in the Clouds," which even has some spacey, nearly post-rock twinkles -- though Correria's cutesier delivery in the latter contrasts a bit too roughly, at least until he picks up some 'umph' and trades off shouts with someone else (guitarist Brian Marquis, presumably).

Still, largely the overall effect of The Sound of Human Lives is that it has some wonderful ideas and nothing ever gets too out of hand, but those ideas haven't yet been properly integrated and implemented. It'd definitely be interesting to see where the band takes their sound from here and if they can use it to write the better, more life-affirming songs they could probably be.

I Am Only an Island