Sound — 6
Hopefully you've done your research already and have known what this band is comprised of and that this is their debut album. "Black Diamonds" EP was released back in 2012, so here we are in 2014, the band improves. For the most part, Michael Bohn's vocals have gotten even better, the synths/turntables are cooler, and at times, in songs such "Disappear (Remember When)" Tyler's singing really shines. Guitar, bass and drums I wouldn't necessarily say have gotten that much better since "Black Diamonds," but it really isn't terrible, like it sort of was then. However, when putting all of these instruments as a sound together, at times, the synthesizers/turntables just seem to be there or in the way. The singing comes off as cheesy, especially in the choruses of some songs.
Lyrics — 5
"Sad Ghost," the first track off the album probably has my favorite lyric:
"I'll write a letter to my former self
Dear Sad Ghost, why'd you put your heart on a shelf?"
"Mad at Myself" has a chorus that sounds very fitting for top 40 radio. The band themselves has commented that wanted to mix metal and "Top 40" music in the same way that nu-metal mixed heavy metal music with hip hop music. "Life of a Nine" has got to be the coolest track from the album. The synths are really cool, but what I really love are how Tyler belts out:
"She's a mother f--king five living the life of a nine
And thinking that she's a bad b-tch
Trick is so selfish."
"Late" has got to be the biggest turn off, for me at least. Autotuned vocals are noticeable right off the bat, and cheesy synths make it seem like something Chris Brown would write. Sadly, this definitely sounds like a song that would get played in clubs. It's also the first song without unclean vocals and heavy guitars.
"Stingray Affliction" has some of the worst lyrics I've ever heard, especially from Michael's part:
"He's so hardcore when he's running his mouth
There's always gonna be that f--king guy."
I do like how near the end of the song, Tyler gets into R&B mode, but that's about the only cool thing to point out. "Never Lose Your Flames" has a chorus that will get a crowd jumping. The thing is, I hate how the lyrics are cut off into a different line.
"If you got the keys then start the car and
Drive as far as you can
If you got the blood then you got the heart to
Give yourself a chance."
"The Settlement" has to be the perfect example of a song where I did not want to hear Tyler's vocals whatsoever, especially during the chorus. I mean who wants pop/R&B when the riffs are heavy, and the lyrics are angsty. For example, 2nd stanza from Michael:
"Closed doors can only hide so much
Pacing through this hallway, I listen in disgust
As you divide my mind and force my years into minutes
Destroy the hands of time, the hands that made me whole."
"Disappear (Remember When)" surprisingly is the song where I was most impressed by Tyler's vocals. This song literally described my ever mood last night. Tyler yells:
"But I'm a selfish broken heart
And now I've got this far
Cope me with the thought of holding you a minute longer in my arms."
The song ends with a choir singing the chorus line. And voila, the album has ended.
Overall Impression — 7
When comparing this album, you're going to have people comparing it to other Rise bands, and also people pointing out how the singing sounds like Justin Bieber. If that was true, then Issues would sound much worse. And although, I hate to admit it, this album does somewhat compare to Falling In Reverse's "Fashionably Late," but only because they took a bunch of genres together to make an album. Issues did this much better, but there is still a lack of what exactly they want to be known as, and what they want to be. They're touring Warped Tour for the 2nd year in a row, so I'm sure they will be as successful as ever, eventually. They bring in quite a number of nu-metal influences, in which I hear Korn, Limp Bizkit, and P.O.D. They do a much better job than some other metalcore acts, such as Of Mice & Men did recently on their latest album. My favorite songs on this album are "Life of a Nine," "The Langdon House," "Personality Cult," and "Disappear (Remember When)." This album is actually a surprisingly solid effort, despite some of the flaws I pointed out, this album will be a great standout for its genre, and make for itself on the Rise roster.