Sound: In an earlier interview about the album, vocalist Michael Jagmin stated that he wanted to combine the sound of earlier Wires And The Concept Of Breathing with the sound of Adelphia. The latter of the two albums wasn't well received, but Wires was welcomed with open arms in the post-hardcore community. I'm happy to say that Identity on Fire retains the breakdown, scream, and crunchy palm-mute heavy formula of Wires and the smooth, flowing vocals of Adelphia. While Jagmin's voice overshadowed the instruments in Adelphia, it neither takes backseat nor draws attention from the instrumentals of this album. There is also more synth action in this album than in others, an example would be the song titled F--k The System.
Drummer Cory La Quay is also at his best on here, creating thundering and bombastic beats. As stated before, this album is instrumentally the same as Wires and the Concept of Breathing and vocally the same as Adelphia. It is a very pleasing mix. // 8
Lyrics: Wires was somewhat of a concept album, most songs being written with heavy reference to Final Fantasy. The lyrics on Identity on Fire are appropriate for the title. The songs are mostly about finding yourself, friends, relationships, etc. It's nice to see a band writing lyrics about fantasy games to start writing about real life. Ex Marks The Spot, one of the highlights of the album, is about the difficulty of maintaining a relationship while on tour. Too Little Too Late is a song written in retrospect of wasted time. The track "The Cali Buds" is about leaving friends behind for a band. The album's titular track is about having an identity crisis, which includes interesting layering of screaming, clean singing and spoken word parts. Examples of lyrics that I enjoyed the most are as follows:
"Wake up and say you're not alone." - Identity on Fire
"I'm playin' this one close to my chest, I'll never let go, say you'll never let go, get down on your knees and show me how you please." - Ex Marks The Spot
"Reject the world that is broken, the time slips through our fingers, reject the words that are spoken, the final hour will linger, too little too fuckin' late." - Too Little Too Late
The vocal skills of Jagmin have yet to diminish and neither has the screaming of Brian white. White's screaming has actually improved dramatically since the last album. Jag's extremely high pitched vocals are still present, and in some songs such as 500 Days of Bummer, it is enjoyably quirky. // 8
Overall Impression: My overall impression of this album is that it stands out in an otherwise generic scene. When I first heard ASD about a year ago, I thought of them as nothing more than a typical screamo/post-hardcore/scene band. They are much more than that, and I recommend this album to pretty much anybody that enjoys bands with high pitched male singers or anybody that likes heavy music with screaming. I would compare this (vocally) to bands such as Coheed and Cambria, Bone Palace Ballet era Chiodos and Circa Survive. Instrumentally, I'd compare it to bands like Alesana, Escape the Fate and Blessthefall. Identity on Fire is a lush combination of soft, shrill vocals with pounding drums, fast, hard crunching guitar and gut-busting screams.
My favorite songs on this album would have to be Too Little Too Late, Identity on Fire, Ex Marks The Spot, XO Skeleton and if you're interested in the deluxe edition with bonus content, Black and Blue.
I have very few complaints about this album, but one song failed to impress me. Conscience Is A Killer follows Too Little Too Late, and right off the bat it feels off. The drumming and rhythm are nearly identical and it just makes the album feel repetitive. Other than that, I enjoy the other 11 songs on the album very much.
If I lost this album or it were stolen from me, I would definitely purchase it again. As it stands, it is the best album in A Skylit Drive's repertoire. The band has made a comeback after releasing lackluster Adelphia and made an album that stands toe to toe with Wires, their debut album. // 8