Sound — 8
First of all, I will focus entirely on the band's current sound as well as the sound of the instruments on this CD; opinions and other things will be at the bottom of the review.
For starters, the southern aspects of He is Legend are all gone in every single song. Now we hear a groove-driven HiL that tries(and sometimes succeeds)to mix in every song a touch of hard rock, catchy choruses and a great guitar distortion (which in my opinion is what makes this CD sound heavy in the first place).
The guitarist, Adam Tanbouz, succeeds to deliver riffs that are filled with emotion. Sometimes you will headbang, sometimes you will play the one instrument which we are all good for: the air guitar, and sometimes you will just sit confused wondering "What the---Why did he change that riff?, It was heavy as a french toast!" Also a wide range of guitar effects are used throughout the album, which helps add that special flavor to the songs.
The bass stands on it's own in this album, and Matt Williams does a great job playing it. Some bass lines are as groovy as Earthworm Jim, and never is the bass clouded by the guitar.
Steve Bache maintains the tempo of the songs, which is the same as Suck Out the Poison, no more fast songs like I Am Hollywood or 91025. The only bad aspect is that the snare drum and toms sound a lot more than the cymbals. But overall, the drummer accomplishes it's role. No complex drumming is heard in the album.
Lyrics — 8
Schuylar Croom's singing style has changed a lot since their EP 91025. His tone is similar to Suck Out the Poison, only that the raspy vocals are gone and so are the growls and screams (I may add that I DO HATE the fact that growls and screams are totally gone). Nonetheless, a great vocalist and a great voice. The vocal tones in the songs are varied and in some songs we hear "sing/scream" vocals (Note that it's not just a regular scream, but also singed. To be more precise, the ending of the song "Decisions, Decisions, Decisions"). Schuylar delivers a great performance, as usual.
The singer Bibis Ellison adds the female vocals in some songs, and while she has a different style, she also delivers well in the songs she participates.
The lyrics. Well, in comparison with earlier work of the band, the lyrics are less deep and are easier to interpret. Personal conflicts, random/abstract situations and reactions are some of the themes that are delivered through the music. Also, China White is transformed in a trilogy of songs in this album, the third part being the most calm and laid back of the three.
Overall Impression — 7
To be honest, I expected a little more from a band that has a great talent and has delivered a great deal of material throughout their existence. BUT, I'm not totally disappointed, the band indeed showed progression from their past album to this one, and it seems that they're still trying to find their sound, which by the looks of it they are showing a great improvement.
The first half of the album is really good. Dicephalous, Party Time!, Everyone I Know Has Fangs, The Primarily Blues, Decisions X 3 and China White III are in my opinion the standout tracks in the album (opinions by everyone may be varied, so stay calm). The 3 masterpieces for me are The Primarily Blues, Decisions x 3 and China White III.
I do recommend that you give this album an opportunity, being a fan or not of the band. Although they are still finding their own sound, they show a promising future unlike most bands out there, which makes them a unique act in our times.