Sound — 5
Alright first off I'll say it up front, I am legitimately fond of a lot of Rise bands. This being said you can safely stay away from this record if you're not big on Rise-type metalcore. Don't waste your time if you're expecting any experimental riffing or technical playing.
Issues was founded earlier this year (2012) by former clean and unclean vocalists of Woe, Is Me Tyler Carter and Michael Bohn, respectively as well as by the Ferris brothers (also of Woe, Is Me). The Ferris brothers ended up dropping out of the project early on. The roster is rounded out by members of other lesser-known bands from the Atlanta area. The bad blood between Woe, Is Me and the members of Issues is something that created a pretty decent amount of hype around the band. Issues seemed to be a sort of comeback, or "in your face" attempt to get back at Woe, Is Me for whatever reason. Regardless of whether or not that's true I found myself intrigued from the start.
Alright on to the sound of the band. The heavy-aspect of the band is, as I said earlier, typical of a Rise metalcore act. Open note breakdowns are peppered throughout every song and make up the bulk of the guitar parts with the occasional brown-note section thrown in. There's also a lot of bending notes in a sort of "Djent without really being Djent" style. The choruses are also standard fare: chord progressions. Nothing new here, but the effect isn't terrible.
Issues really tries to define themselves by using dubstep, hip hop, and house beats. This is also nothing new to this genre, but I can see Tyler Carter's influence here. Tyler has a hip-hop solo career on the side. A lot of the songs have sections that sound kind of awkward and out of place. I feel like these sections were inserted to give Carter a chance to flex his hip-hop vocal muscles, and the end result is sporadic and less than satisfying. This is something that was, honestly, done more tastefully on Woe, Is Me's first album "Number[s]". I'd like to say that Issues hasn't really found its footing yet, but will hopefully carve out a more unique sound on future releases.
This is how I'm picturing the Issues studio sessions sounding like: Issues: "We gotta get heavy son! Show em what we got!"
"Yeah boi that riff is heavy, but we need more swag on this joint! Toss a tasty beat on that piece!"
Producer: "Uhh I think it sounds ok the way it is..."
Issues: "Nah son didn't you hear me? It's a banger but I said SWAG!"
Producer: "Alright I'll see what I can do..."
Lyrics — 7
It's hard to ignore Tyler Carter's vocal chops. He has always brought a unique sound to whatever genre of music he's performing in. His voice has a lot of soul and he's able to pull off vocal lines that most singer's wouldn't dream of. He does well on this EP but like I said earlier, his trancy hip hop breakdowns can sound awkward and out of place at times.
Michael Bohn has always been a consistent screamer. He can quite ably perform low, mid, and high screaming vocals but has always been overshadowed by the clean singers he's worked with. The best way to describe Bohn on this EP is that he does his thing. His delivery is as consistent as always. A guest appearance by Chris Fronzak (Fronz) of Attila is a nice change up on "Love. Sex. Riot." The lyrics are neither good nor bad, however, I was impressed that only one song is directed at Woe, Is Me (Woe, Is Me's entire album is basically an attack on the "haters".)
Overall Impression — 5
I've said it over and over again but this release doesn't do anything revolutionary by any means. My favorite song by far is "Love. Sex. Riot", but I'm an Attila fan. I'd like to say it's a decent first release but in reality I was pretty underwhelmed by everything about it. It may have been the hype but I actually had some expectations for this and it didn't really live up to any of them. It's not really a bad EP but I doubt I'll be listening to it in a month. Here's hoping that future releases bring something more to the table.