It must have been damn hard to follow up their amazing, one-of-a-kind, conceptual, brutal debut album River Runs Red, and there are a segment of fans who argue they never adequately did, but for me, this album is an absolutely stormer too.
Musically, this album is a pretty interesting hybrid. Its got a touch of Ross Robinson Nu Metal flavour in the way some of the riffs work, its still got a hangover of the band’s NYHC roots but dialled back a bit, there’s touches of Doom, Stoner and Grunge in there at times but not enough to take over the whole album. It’s a pretty unique beast, and there’s plenty of variety on there to further add to the melting pot.
The lyrics on this album are absolutely brilliant. Kind of intense and emotionally weighty. There are topics of disillusionment, alienation, isolation, identity crisis, quarter-life crisis, complex relationships with family members and other such introspection. I know some people hate anything personal and deem anything like this to be “too emo” but in context and in and of itself, the lyrical quality of this album is sky high. Considering the life course of Keith (now Mina) Caputo, the lyrics just have such power and import and really “speak to you.” Topped off with really powerful, evocative and harrowing vocal performances that really project the message of the lyrics, its pretty intense stuff.
Songs like “Lost At 22,” “Damned If I Do” and “How It Would Be” all fell pretty damn profound. It also helps that the musical quality of the album is equally high. “Fears” is absolutely crushing, “Drained” has serious hooks, and “I Regret” feels like a hit single.
The album ends surprisingly with a cover of Simple Minds “(Don’t You) Forget About Me” which you will likely recognize from the movie The Breakfast Club. It’s a pretty straight cover too, no drastic reworking. It feels a bit gimmicky to me, but not enough to spoil the record.
Overall; this is a superbly well-written, interesting and affecting album with some brilliant performances and a lot to offer. If you want it to sound more like Biohazard, Madball and Sick Of It All then the change in musical direction might be a bit off-putting and likewise if you’ve always hated anything “alternative” then perhaps steer clear, but if “a good song is a good song no matter what genre” to you, and you don’t mind the idea of emotionally draining lyrics, then I highly recommend you check out this record.