Sound — 8
Close To Home are an interesting band to listen to. Most will just mush them in the ever constantly building "generi-core" labeling, but I personally see some promise with these guys. For a debut album, Never Back Down shines with a kind of semi-maturity that can truly be respected. The band shares a TON of comparisons to A Day To Remember, given that both bands combine mosh-worthy breakdowns with poppy choruses, however Close To Home offers some interesting atmospheric changes compared to ADTR. Most notable is their use of electronics, which while nowhere near unique, works fairly well for them. Unlike some bands the key flourishes don't seem forced, but more an integral part of the music. The guitar playing is very standard, pretty much a metalcore meets pop punk smoothie, but even that works in their advantage. It was never written in stone that a band needs guitar virtuosos to have good music.
Lyrics — 8
Vocally, Close To Home are very enjoyable. The sung lines and choruses are ridiculously catchy and melodic, and the screamed lines are very well executed. Lyricaly, the band finds a mix of well done, relatable songs and vague, emotionless enterpretations of feelings and events. Count The Ways and End Of An Era shine through for me, but basically just for personal relatability. In addition, Count The Ways features one of the most exciting vocal performances on the disk, bouncing from a bubbly pop chorus to hyped up screamed verses on the drop of a dime. Some of the vocal changes on the disk will make you scratch your head thinking "should they have truly done that there?" But just relax and give them time. They show promise already, so the next full length could quite possibly bring the small corrections they need.
Overall Impression — 7
Yes, I enjoy this band a lot. And yes, I know they aren't the most original thing out there right now. That aside, they are enjoyable and very compitent songwriters who have delievered a solid debut album. The only thing I can truly knit pick about this album would be the sudden, non-flowing tempo changes in some of the songs. Otherwise this is a very well written album, the kind you can easily get lost in, whether it be driving down the road, working out, or just chilling with some friends. The best songs are, in my opinion, Count The Ways, Changes, End Of An Era, and All We Know. Highly reccomended for fans of A Day To Remember, Close Your Eyes, and Across Five Aprils.