I’ve known about I See Stars since they released 3D in 2009. At that time, the band didn’t really interest me at all so I never bothered to listen to them. It wasn’t until last year when I saw a girl wearing an I See Stars shirt that I decided it was time that I checked them out. Apparently the band’s popularity has been growing at a fairly steady pace since 2009 and has led to them being fairly successful. So this was the first album that I decided to check out because the ratings on Spirit of Metal were higher for this one than 3D. Honestly, I’m glad that I listened to this album first because 3D isn’t really what I would call “unique” and “impressive”. In this album, there is loads of progression, creativity, and the fusion of other outside genres that you wouldn’t expect to hear in the metal genre. Even though I’m not into screamo nearly as much as I was in 2009-2010, I still have the ability to appreciate the bands that come out of that area (and I still listen to my screamo bands quite often at times).
So it seems that there’s been an ever-growing trend that consists of adding in lots of keyboards, electronics, and techno/pop elements to heavier, highly-distorted screamo music. Some of the more prominent examples of this would be Attack Attack!’s 2008 album, Asking Alexandria, Enter Shikari (whom I’m not fond of), and Dead by April. But I mean there’s that, and then there’s I See Stars. If you don’t get what I mean, listen to the first track off of this record. Don’t think that I’m saying this is a bad thing at all; in fact, I don’t really know what the hell to think of it! But the first track is my favorite off the whole album.
It starts with an interesting breakdownish type of thing that’s obviously a breakdown but it’s not what most people are used to hearing. Mainly because most breakdowns sound like a drop; going from higher notes and tempos to much lower ones. This one has the breakdown BEAT within the drums and guitars, but it doesn’t sound low, in fact, it then drops down into a deeper breakdown that has a DUBSTEP WOBBLE (I bet most of you are going to see the word dubstep and say “forget it, I’m going to go about the rest of my day, bye!” But I like some dubstep (primarily the metal-influenced HEAVY stuff like Excision). But I mean seriously, I wasn’t expecting that AT ALL! Now when I listen to it, I actually feel that it fits the song and even gives it some edge which creates more tension within the music. So after the dubstep breakdown, it then leads into an extremely poppy techno chorus with crystal-clear singing and a seemingly endless amount of keyboard tracks in the background to give the chorus an extremely mystical and atmospheric sound that still causes people to start dancing and partying (pun intended).
I don’t know what it is with almost all of these screamo vocalists being absolutely amazing at screaming. I’ve been screaming for almost four years and I STILL can’t get my vocals to go that high! Of course there are also some of the best singers I’ve ever heard coming out of these bands; but then there’s a large number of singers that use a confusingly large amount of auto-tune. I understand that this is done sometimes for the “digital” sound that it creates so that it can fit the music better, which is fine and even sounds cool in some cases. But most of the SCREAMO singers that use auto-tune use it because they actually need it! THAT IS WHY THEY INVENTED SINGING LESSONS PEOPLE!!! If it weren’t for their crappy guitarist/auto-tune singer, I would love the first Attack Attack! album literally 1000x more than I do now.
In the case of I See Stars, they have a singer that uses auto-tune maybe 24% of the time, which suggests that he’s using it for the sound, because his singing is amazing and extremely crisp without the auto-tune. But in this band’s case where they have tons and tons of electronics and synthesizers backing up the music and giving it a strong techno/pop vibe, the auto-tuned vocals don’t ruin the music most of the time.
There isn’t really anything too profound about any of the musicians. In other words, they’re good for the genre, but not amazing. So an excellent blend of heavy screamo-styled breakdowns, powerful high-pitched screams, beautiful singing, rock parts that remind me so much of Fall out Boy, and techno/pop parts is what I would describe I See Stars to be. This isn’t really the type of music that I would listen to over and over, but it’s pretty good and there isn’t very much that I don’t like about it. The reason why I don’t LOVE this album is just because the impressing elements that this album holds aren’t SUPER impressive. I score this record 13/20.