Sound — 10
This is one hell of a progression on their previous effort. Having struggled with producers such as Mark Trombino (who aparently wanted to create another WIITB) they eventualy turned to Jason Cupp and persuaded him to let Finch themselves co-produce the majority of the tracks. As a result, Finch clearly produced what they wanted and have destroyed any expectations you may have had of them cashing in on the success of WIITB. Randy's guitar work is outstanding and is like nothing iv ever heard ranging from crashing riffs in album opener, 'Insomniatic Meat', 'A Piece Of Mind' and 'Revelation Song', to the jazz-like 'Ink' which is destined to become a classic with a huge chorus that will stick in your head for weeks and raise venue roofs everywhere. The arrival of Marc Allen on drums is another huge step forward and I think makes the band a lot tighter and more of a coherant unit with the drums and base reigning in the schizophrenic (and occasionaly disjointed), yet utterly inspired, guitar work.
Lyrics — 10
Before I start this section il just say I have seen Finch twice the latest being in Manchester in May and the improvement in their overall live performance was simply incredible, most noteably in Nate's voice where he didnt miss a note all night, making the adjustment from croon to scream mid-song seem easy when anyone who has performed lives knows that it is anything but. I'm biased in this area as Nate Barcalow is my favourite vocalist/lyricists and has greatly influenced my own writing. His lyrics on this album, whilst more cryptic, have lost none of their impact and are fitting in the general advancement on WIITB. His voice seems to have grown in power and is very emotive although it does take a few listens to work out what he is singing about. The subject matter throughout the album is clearly very personal to Nate and seems largely to be about him battling his own demons. This becomes most apparent on 'Insomniatic Meat', and 'A Piece Of Mind' (2 of my personal favourites on the album). He quite clearly is not content singing about the standard emo/screamo topics, you know the ones - boy loves girl, girl dumps boy coz hes such an emotional mess blah blah blah and whilst what I originaly loved about Finch was Nate's ability to tap into personal, complex empotions and sing about them in a general way so that it could be understood on a global scale, I have grown up since I purchased WIITB as a vulnerable 14 yr old and clearly so have Finch. Ultimately, the lyrics suit the more progressive tone of the album and present much more of a challenge to the listener.
Overall Impression — 10
Although it is an obvious starting point (and I have done it myself on a number of occassions), it is not realy fair to compare SHTS to WIITB as they are so different in tone and subject matter. There are some clear influences such as Faith No More and Glassjaw with a hint of Deftones, and yet Finch have created an album that is void of any label or genre I can think of and for that alone I think they should be applauded. Instead of instantly cashing in and producing WIITB prt2, they took their time (perhaps a little too much time) allowing their fanbase to mature in order to produce such an accomplished and intelligent, yet emotionaly raw masterpiece. Highlights include 'Insomniatic Meat', 'A Piece Of Mind', 'Ink' and 'Casket Of Roderick Usher'. If I lost this album I would go out and buy 2 copies just to make sure I always had a copy and then id take out an insurance policy on one of them and put the other in a big vault to keep it safe. I love this album it is quickly becoming my favourite of all time, give it the chance to do the same to you.