Sound — 9
Woe, Is Me was :'( a metalcore band that formed in 2009. Since releasing "Number[s]" in 2010, several band members left the band, including vox Tyler Carter and Michael Bohn (both in Issues), lead guitarist Tim Sherill and his replacement Geoffrey Higgins, and the Ferris brothers (both in Cursed Sails).
Along the way, the band recruited more new members, such as singer Hance Alligood, screamer Doriano Magliano (That's Outrageous), lead guitarist Andrew Paiano, and bassist Brian Medley. Unfortunately something in the band may have gone awry during the recording of their upcoming album. "Genesi[s]" was released November 20, 2012, and was panned by critics for its guitar use and less than creative angry lyrics. Wait, did I say "guitar use"? I meant lack their of. Ironically, despite having singing choruses and only one blast beat in the entire album, it's considered "deathcore" by Wikipedia.
After reading comments on their videos a few months ago, I've come to a conclusion that the drummer Austin Thornton wanted the band to be angry as possible and play as less notes as possible to compete with Issues. This extremely limited the guitarists skills and ultimately made the band sound as juvenile as possible. Austin Thornton left the band shortly after "Genesi[s]" was released.
"American Dream" is Woe, Is Me's first EP. Unfortunately, it was also their last. Woe, Is Me really wanted a new sound after their last album, "Genesi[s]" was received poorly by critics (not this critic :')). The band just clicked on this EP. The sound is completely different from their previous album. The biggest addition to this album is the leads. They're actually on this album. Andrew Paiano didn't feel limited by the former drummer anymore so he was able to take full creative advantage of his talent. Much like rhythm guitarist Kevin Hanson, who has sharpened his skills since "Genesi[s]," as there's more melody featured in the songs, along with the standard chugging fare.
Probably more shocking than the return of the guitars, is the drums. Playing them now is David Angle. He seems to be proficient, and although he doesn't stand out in the genre, he stands out in the Woe, Is Me catalog, by using blast beats; something that was only in one song on "Genesi[s]" ("I Came, I Saw, I Conquered"). Although their wasn't a synth player in the band at this time, the synth makes a comeback (Cameron Mizell?). Woe, Is Me seem to take their talents in a new direction on "American Dream," and it showcases their new found sonic strength. While only five tracks, it will provide many hours of listening.
Three tracks on the album are your typical metalcore affair in Drop Bb tuning. Two tracks, however, are acoustic tracks featuring Hance Alligood on vocals. The songs you'll find on "American Dream" have a simpler formula than on "Genesi[s]," the same chorus in each song is repeated more than once. The heavy songs contain a breakdown after the first chorus, but every song has a section after the second chorus where Hance clean vocals can shine. I personally liked the structure in "Genesi[s]," but these are actually very nice. However, this is the most contemporary the band has ever sounded, so brace yourself.
"Stand Up" begins the EP with a nice solid breakdown with some djenty licks. The song then flourishes with a hardcore blast beat with Doriano Magliano doing his signature scream before going into a growl in the next breakdown. Hance Alligood takes over the choruses with his clean vocals.
"American Dream" probably contains the best guitars on the album. The quiet drums at the beginning open up to the groovy lead. After the first chorus, you can hear a guest vocalist queuing the next breakdown. The synth breakdown is very grueling so please wear sunglasses when you listen to it, or punch yourself. Whatever makes you stop crying. "A Voice of Hope" starts out with a staticky angry yelling, which is used to queue a sick breakdown. Shortly after, the tempo changes (this is rare for the band), and the listener is greeted with a sick blast beat, followed by nice atmosphere. The album settles down after those tracks, with the two acoustic tracks, "Restless Nights" and "Fine Without You." There's not much to say about both tracks, other than they're perfect for strolling through a suburban neighboorhood on a cloudy day. Put it short, they're amazing.
The tracks on "American Dream" are a breath of fresh air, compared to "Genesi[s]." The heavy tracks instill life in the band and show listeners that they're not ready to quit, while the acoustic tracks are the most endearing and make the listener feel and really win the listener over.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics have improved tenfold on "American Dream." Rather than be angry and dwell on the more successful band, the lyrics on the first three tracks are inspiring and encourage the listener to try new things, for example, become a musician. The acoustic tracks are more personal.
Not only are the lyrics great, both vox don't even hit a sour note. Doriano Magliano uses much of the same scream and growl featured in "Genesi[s]," along with occasional yelling like in "American Dream." Although I wasn't drawn to his voice before, it's good to know he wasn't being stupid and threw out his larynx like most vocalists do. This is his third effort in the studio (his first appearance was on the album "Teenage Scream" by "That's Outrageous," another amazing band which I will review in the near future).
Not only the screams are good, the cleans are better than ever. Hance Alligood displays his pipes loud and proud. He employs a slightly softer performance than on "Genesi[s]," as he doesn't do anything heavy, although Doriano already takes care of that.
Overall Impression — 10
As I've said before, this EP and its offering are far more better than any track on "Genesi[s]." I like "Genesi[s]" a lot, mostly for its tone and production, along with the killer breakdowns and riffs, but I feel this EP doesn't put any stress on the listener. There's no way you can listen to "American Dream" and be pissed. Since it's an EP, it never gets old. Unfortunately, this album was a digital release, so if you're one of the few fans that lived near a Best Buy when this EP was released, then it's intangible.
That's not even the worst part. Hance decided to get full of himself and left the band to form his own project, Favorite Weapon. Woe, Is Me couldn't handle finding another vocalist, so they folded. I only wish I would've found out about them sooner, and maybe they'd still be alive today. I encourage every American to listen to this album. It's not their fault if they didn't know it existed, but they shouldn't put it off if they found a physical copy. If they do, they are commies. If you listen to one album this week, make it this one.