Sound: Chattanooga metalcore band Across Five Aprils shows that its main strength is the solid guitar team of Zak Towe and Adam Nordmeyer on its 3rd full-length album Life Underwater. Things usually start to go awry with Brandon Mullins' grating vocal delivery, which often tends to overshadow the impressive instrumentation underneath. There's nothing wrong with screaming to relay the emotion of a song, but Mullins takes things to a level where it gets downright tiresome at times.
The opening track The Darkest Road starts out promising with an incredible intro that features some nice, deep tones from the guitars. Pretty much the entire song is screamed, but Towe and Nordmeyer's guitar parts are so strong that they can truly carry the entire song. It's not a downright aggressive track, and that allows some subtle, yet effective guitar sections to be written into the mix. The vocals are get pretty repetitive in The Darkest Road, and if there's a positive in that, it allows Towe and Nordmeyer to get plenty of attention with all of the different parts they come up with throughout the track.
The band has the ability to write a solid, balanced song, as is the case in the track In Photographs. Some might argue that it's not aggressive enough or that the melody makes it sound too pop-friendly, but there's nothing wrong with having a song where not every single line gives the spotlight to Mullins' screams. The chorus is easily the most memorable on the entire album, and you can finally hear a little more of what's going on with the other instruments.
Another impressive track to check out (for very different reasons) is My Sins Stacked To Heaven, which puts a lot more of the focus on an ambient sound. The intro is almost dreamy-sounding with echoing notes and a synth that has almost an orchestral feel. My Sins takes very different turns throughout, but it does show that Across Five Aprils has the capability of some very cool arrangements. // 6
Lyrics: The music has its problems, but the lyrics don't fare much better on Life Underwater. At times they seem a little too basic, and then Mullins will repeat those same mediocre lines into the ground. One example comes in the track Faith Shaped Pills when Mullins sings, Run away; Think of the times that make you; Want to stay; Run away. They are obviously trying to find lines that are short and succinct to fit with the music, but in general the lyrics on the entire album tend to feel a bit too uninspired. // 6
Overall Impression: With its 3rd record, Across Five Aprils hasn't really offered up anything that isn't already out on the metalcore scene. While there are definitely some creative moments, there are just as many scream-saturated, annoying instances along the way. A song like Snape Kills Dumbledore sounds like it could at least be intriguing from the title alone, but it just doesn't meet expectations. This is not to say that there isn't some well thought-out guitar work going on behind it all. Towe and Nordmeyer deserve credit for coming up with some of the more inspired moments of the entire album. // 6