Sound — 8
This album seems to have that most cliched and hated set ups for those who consider themselves true metal fans: Mixture of modern Metalcore and modern dance music synthesizers with a fashionably skinny tattooed vocalist. This is like a form kryptonite to many metal fans and I totally get why with bands like Attack Attack, Asking Alexandria and even earlier Bring Me The Horizon records managing to be very successful using this style of set-up with no innovation of any kind. While this album does not have a particularly ground breaking sound to it I am happy to report what it has done made the formula work in such a way that it is not deeply boring and extremely easy to listen to. Even though the electronic parts are very prevalent it is done in what I consider to be in a very tasteful way. Furthermore the rest of the band has hit on a style which I feel they should stick with: Not particularly Breakdown-heavy (compared to other similar bands) and with more of a sense of musicality.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics I have to say are the albums biggest weakness. Apart from a few songs it does just seem that there is just a lot of blind anger and stereotypical lyrical content. One example I can use is the fifth track "Go To Hell For Heaven's Sake". It could be just me but using the opposite things in the same phrase is something that I have seen done so many times I can not be impressed with it's use, even if I am rather impressed with the songs overall Vitriolic feeling. That's not to say all of the lyrics are bad. In fact they match the songs they are put in quite well and "Sleepwalking", while potential cliche has a set of lyrics which have always seemed to resonate with me. The singer is, Oli Sykes, aside from being somewhat of a divisive character even for those who are fans of this bands corner in the music industry, is also quite a divisive vocalist. To some he is the best vocalist ever and for other he is a stereotypical, almost talent-less mess. As far as I can tell he's got a decent scream on him and his clean vocals seem to have improved over the course of time. That's not to say the clean vocals are fantastic but there are plenty that are worse and/or more auto tuned and fake sounding.
Overall Impression — 8
1. "Can You Feel My Heart" - The album opens with a massive slice of what I will call (for the purposes of this review) "Electro-Metal". It focuses a lot on the clean vocals and is an interesting choice of pace to start the album and I for one quite like it. It's a good way to show what kind of musical journey the album wants to take you on. 2. "The House Of Wolves" - This I suppose is more of what I was expecting with the angry lyrics and the main focus being on the string instruments right off that bat. The anger in the lyrics means this song is one of those that it is very easy just go mental to if you were to hear it live. The synth's continue to be used in a very tasteful manner. 3. "Empire (Let Them Sing)" - This song has more of a stomp and head bang sort of groove. The gang vocals and harshness of the vocal tones make this song very aggressive. The semi spoken parts, while another often used clich, are very effectively used in this song to once again produce a very distinct angry tone. 4. "Sleepwalking" - One of the two singles released from the album and it is very plain to see why. The vocals put a greater emphasis on melodic hooks and the chorus is downright infectious with it's nicely flowing melody and memorable lyrics. However in the second verse and middle 8 we see the song is not afraid to use the heavier elements of the band. This to me is a very simple yet complete 4 minute rock/metal song. 5. "Go To Hell For Heaven's Sake" - Despite already saying that I am not a fan of this songs lyrics the rest of this song is very strong. A very strong and memorable vocal delivery in the undeniably bouncy chorus as well something that I feel has been missing on the album as a whole, some proper lead guitar work, mean this song definitely stands out in it's own right. 6. "Shadow Moses" - The lead single from the album and it definitely shows. From the longer electronic intro to the deliberately catchy chorus and the solid drop Bb-tuned guitars show off basically all of the core elements of the album all wrapped up in one song. The gang vocal cry of "This is Sempiternal" would be an absolute monster of a moment in an arena or festival stage. 7. "And The Snakes Start To Sing" - The first 4 bars of the intro are very sinister, which I guess matches the title of the title and topic of the lyrics. Then after about a minute it explodes into a brooding, crawling almost slithering track that does a fantastic job at getting under your skin. If I had to compare this song to anything it's like something off the first 30 Seconds To Mars album with more beef on it. Another very complete song and my favorite on the album to this point. 8. "Seen It All Before" - Musically it sounds like this song just follows on directly from the previous one but this one goes into show itself as much more guitar orientated than the previous synthesizer lead track. There is use of high vocal ranges than has been shown before by Oli Sykes. I think it definitely works in the context of this song but I think it could perhaps have done with a slightly stronger voice. Really good effort though on another excellent track. 9. "Anti-Vist" - Another very angry, guitar and bass lead track with some angry, curse-laden words to go with it. It's seems very similar to tracks that have already been on the album but despite the song itself being a little samey it's the anger that is portrayed that really catches the eye. It's almost like Oli Sykes (particularly in the "speech" part) is speaking to the face of whichever power he is talking about. 10. "Crooked Young" - The use of string is perfect for this sort of intro make it so much bigger and more epic sounding than it had any right being. The song stays strong with another infectious chorus and very subtle lead guitar work. However it's hard to tell whether Religion is being used to play up how lost the current generation of teenagers and young people in the UK feel at the moment or using the idea of children to slander religion. 11. "Hospital For Souls" - The intro with the sampled spoken pattern does a remarkable job of building up tension which is then doubled up by the synthesizer section. The song then begins in Ernest being almost entirely centered on clean vocals until the chorus, which sort of goes against the pattern of a few tracks on the album. It has a sort of "end of the journey" sort of vibe and that I imagine is not by accident. It is really a shame that it is not as interesting a song as some of the ones that preceded it. This is a very good album. I would call it excellent but despite the album only cocking in at 45 minutes it does seem some of it (particularly "Anti-Vist" and "Hospital For Souls") seems to be filler, which is a slight concern. There are of course some stand out tracks, including "And The Snakes Start To Sing", "Sleepwalking" and "Crooked Youth". It shows a band that has decided and finally been able to take a step away from their previous work and write something which is not only a good listen but also provides hope for the future for new and old fans alike.