Sound — 9
After reading a few of the other reviews so far I felt compelled to write this, my first ever review on this site. The sound is different. This is a fundamental and undeniable truth. If you've listened to I Am Hollywood or Suck Out the Poison and literally said, "This is the best album mere human beings can produce, there is no way anyone can top this in any shape or form" then you're going to be disappointed. If you're not one of those people, and maybe when you were listening to the aforementioned albums you thought 'Hey, Schuylar's got a real sick hook here.' or 'Shit, that riff just riffed my face off.' then you will not be. 3 years on since there last major release, and the band has 'matured' as some people would say. There is significantly less screaming than their previous efforts, but I would not say that that particular detracts from the album. There is certainly a slight drift towards rock (and hell, even some progressive elements in songs such as 'Stranger Danger') rather than the metal emphasis in Suck out the Poison. But it's still He Is Legend, you can hear it in the crushing riffs, in the gripping melodies, the swelling build-ups and the violent and frankly orgasmic climaxes that make up this album. The bass certainly stands out in this album, more so perhaps in previous releases, but I don't find myself wanting to scream 'Shut the f*ck up' at the Hi-Fi, so I guess, for me, it must be fairly tasteful. I read in one review that there was 'No complex drumming in the album'. That's a filthy disgusting lie. I am officially outraged. Unless Danny Carey wrote that review, then they have absolutely no business making a statement like that. Sure, alot of the drumming isn't super technical, but there were a couple of moments in the album where my jaw did drop for a few seconds. I don't want to sound too like I'm brown-nosing too much. There is the occasional melody where I think, "Eh.. He could do better." or whatever, but really, the album mostly retains some of the top aspects of He Is Legend's sound, without it feeling like I've just bought the same album all over again. *coughkillswitchengagecough*
Lyrics — 7
Croom is one of those singers who could be singing about strawberry jam and still make it sound soulful. I'm pleased to say that most of the lyrics are a match for his vocal abilities. Whether it's crooning softly, or his gruff, yet melodic, yells it seems that Schuylar can pull off even the occasional less-than-impressive or down-right hilarious lyric that you might find on the album. An example of some of the darker and moodier lyrics would be: You know it's very hard for me, To look in the mirror, When there's no reflection of my face. or You're breathing life into brown paper bags You set one down, so I took a drag I can feel you in my lungs Which contradicts the, in my opinion more humourous: But you were standing in the kitchen And you were covered in cherry pie. and I've been dreaming of sailing away I'll build a boat out of paper-mache But instead of finding these irritating, due to Croom's heartfelt and sincere vocals I find them bizarely poignant. I guess that's a weird testimony to his ability as a vocalist.
Overall Impression — 8
As I've already said, this album has strong flavours of He is Legend, but is obviously quite different from their previous releases. I'm in the position where I understand why people might be disappointed, but I find it difficult to see how they can't like it. I genuinely think it's a well-crafted album; it has moments of darkness and discord and it equally has its moments of melody and subtlety. All the tracks for me are pretty damn good. I'd say my two favourites [by slim margins, mind you] are 'China White III' (Yes, that's right, the third part, although much subdued in comparison to it's predecessors) and 'Stranger Danger' which I think is an absolute blinder for show-casing all the aspects that I love about He Is Legend; it shows Croom's diversity of vocal tone, with an unbelievably powerful performance towards the end, it has the slow, crushing build-ups, chunky breakdown riffing and bass, delicate clean guitar sections, phat percussion work, all blended together for that creamy He Is Legend taste. And it's a well constructed song. I actually originally got into He Is Legend because of Croom's screaming ability. That was what initially caught my attention and got me involved, and so obviously I was miffed that they've seriously cut down on that aspect... But... I'm not sure that that's compromised their sound. To me, I can still hear that HIL in there. So for all you who have read this, and especially the I am Hollywood fanboys ;) : I hope you can enjoy this CD as much as I am, and give the band a bit of slack for trying out new styles and sounds.