Sound — 8
Evergreen Terrace has delivered a sleek-sounding new CD that is accentuated by the band's chosen recording setup. For Almost Home, the Jacksonville-based band opted to record the vocals and instrumentation in two separate places, and you can certainly detect some novel, unique choices in the mix. The layers and textures heard on Almost Home are worthy of listening through headphones, if only because all of the little nuances that are occurring in the recording could easily be missed otherwise. As usual the album does find a fairly decent balance between melody and aggression, and fans should be content with the latest material. There is never one aspect/member that hogs the spotlight, and that's certainly to the band's credit. Although guitarists Josh James and Craig Chaney deliver intriguing riffs and solos on the album, they are sporadic enough that they never become commonplace. Enemy Sex, We're Always Losing Blood, and I'm A Bulletproof Tiger are key standouts in terms of riffage and interesting guitar lines happening underneath the vocals. At one moment in the record, there is also somewhat of a System of a Down-like approach to the strumming. It should be mentioned that the guitar tones and effects are key in creating the mood, and Evergreen Terrace excels in this area whether it's the sonic sound of Hopelessly Hopeless or the crunch of God Rocky, Is This Your Face. Again, it does seem like this was a highly layered album, and Evergreen Terrace has created some truly memorable moments because of the overlapping guitar parts. Craig Chaney and Andrew Carey still take turns with the melodic vocals and straightforward screaming respectively, and for the most part it's executed successfully. Evergreen Terrace does, however, sound more at home when they don't even bother adding in more of a pop vibe to the mix. At about 2 minutes long, The Letdown is a prime example of how the band packs a punch with simple aggression. Furious from start to finish, that particular track also highlights the band's creativity in the studio. Even though it's a short tune in length, The Letdown features a cool echo effect that was attached to the vocals and makes for a fairly dramatic end. It's subtle, however, and you'll probably need to listen through headphones or earbuds to get the full effect.
Lyrics — 7
Evergreen Terrace has a fondness for pop culture references, and Almost Home is no exception. Between the play on 80's music in Mario Speedwagon or the cringe-worthy reference from the film Mask (God Rocky, Is This Your Face), Evergreen Terrace hasn't disappointed in its usual shtick. Granted, the lyrics behind the clever titles aren't always quite as witty, but at least they know how to lure you in.
Overall Impression — 8
Although Evergreen Terrace hasn't necessarily created a groundbreaking recording, they still have a knack for balancing catchy choruses, brutal breakdowns, and the always-welcome double bass pedal. At times the melodic singing and screaming do work against each other (Sending Signals), but the band usually allows one or the other to take the forefront and lead the way. Considering that the best tracks on Almost Home were also basically devoid of singing, Evergreen Terrace might want to consider embracing their aggressive side more often.