Sound: I See Stars have always been an interesting band. Their debut, "3-D", showcased songwriting maturity far beyond their age, while their follow up, "The End Of The World Party", was considered by most to be a textbook definition of "sophomore slump". The band took the criticism their previous album received well, and hit all the right notes with "Digital Renegade". To start off, the album is heavy. Not just in guitar tone, but also electronically. Unlike the other two albums, riffs play a much bigger role this time around, and the results are spectacular. "Filth Friends Unite" and "Endless Sky" are prime examples of this.
Atmosphere is also far more noticeable. The slow moving interlude "iBelieve" is peaceful in an almost foreboding way, and the electronic whoops in "NZT48" provide calm amidst the chaos. All in all, their sound is much more focused and enjoyable. // 8
Lyrics: Lyrically, the album follows themes of disbelief in leaders, and dependence on technology. They're more focused, aggressive, and driven. Samples include:
From "NZT48": "You can't really believe what you're hearing, can you? You can't really believe what you're seeing, can you?"
From "Digital Renegade": "I'm seeing clear, I'm leaving fear for the fist time in my life. I'll take everything I know to the streets to the people."
From "Filth Friends Unite": "We all live by our own set of rules. Take everything and everyone down with you.
What if they shut the lights out? So caught up in your digital world... What happens now?"
The vocal trade offs between cleans and screams are more enjoyable this time too. The cleans are autotuned less (though it's still there), and the screams are more vicious, sort of a cross of Frankie of Emmure and Blessthefall style highs. // 9
Overall Impression: This album is far more enjoyable than any of I See Stars' previous ones, and carries more emotional weight. Successfully blending all these influences, from post hardcore/metalcore, club beats, and modern dubstep is not exactly an easy task, but these guys definitely make it seem easy. Start to finish, this album is a thought provoking joyride. No, this won't appeal to haters of the genre of any means, but for anyone looking for electronic post hardcore done right, "Digital Renegade" is an excellent recommendation.
Stand out songs: "NZT48", "Endless Sky", "Filth Friends Unite".
For fans of: Attack Attack!, That's Outrageous, and Asking Alexandria. // 9