Threat Signal has been my favorite metalcore band since they released Vigilance in 2009. Since then, I have bought all of their CDs, a shirt (which I am coincidentally wearing now), and have also had the pleasure to see them live in early 2010 when they opened for Dark Tranquility. Obviously, this isn’t a band that is able to think on the road; they’re not one of those bands that can write new material while on tour. Although I might be wrong because I don’t know if they’ve been on any European tours since the release of Vigilance, but they only went on two U.S. tours. So after they finished touring with Dark Tranquility, my friend decided to follow them on their Facebook. They apparently kicked back and caught up on their sleep during the holidays and then said that they wouldn’t be updating as often because they had some stuff to work out and of course, write material for their next album. Those of you that know me well know that Vigilance is by far one of my favorite metalcore albums. For me, it’s one of those albums that make me think “the next album can’t POSSIBLY be as good, if not BETTER, than this!” The instant I put the CD of their 2011 self-titled album in, I knew I was wrong.
Unfortunately, there was a bit of skepticism in me at first because of a misleading statement my friend (mainly a fan of Under Reprisal) made; saying that “the songs got pretty monotonous after a while”. Although I just let it pass because he wasn’t in one of those metalcore phases at the time, it still left some questions in my head that included worry that he could possibly be right. As I’m sitting here now writing this review, I AM SO FUCKING GLAD THAT HE WAS WRONG! Honestly, Under Reprisal gets a little bet repetitive during the last few songs. And although the songs on Vigilance are far more different from each other than the ones on this record, the word monotonous never popped into my head when I listened to it.
The statement that “this is their heaviest and angriest album” is strongly debatable. The reason why is because Under Reprisal sounds heavier and angrier in the guitars and drums because there is a lot more body on the lower end (bass), giving it a MUCH more powerful sound. The vocals tend to also be rougher and dirtier in some parts. But their self-titled sounds angrier than Under Reprisal in some parts as well. I think that most of it lies into the amount of raging emotion that is put into the vocals. That’s one of the reasons why I like screaming so much, because it’s so easy to tell when the vocalist is putting A LOT of emotion in them. Of course it’s more than possible to do that in growling, but I guess that I can hear emotion easier in screams. So in my opinion, this album isn’t HEAVIER than Under Reprisal, it’s ANGRIER.
In this record, Jon’s vocals tend to go back to the Under Reprisal days by focusing mainly on the mid-ranges and lows rather than primarily doing high-pitched screams. This was probably the first thing that I noticed while listening to this. Of course, Jon still does that singing that reminds me of Chester Bennington whenever I hear it (I’m pretty sure he knows that he sounds like him). I didn’t hear him doing any higher-pitched screams in the first track, so I was eager to hear them in the second song, but the first high-pitched tone that reaches his mouth made me cringe. Could it really be possible? Has Jon screwed over his high range? I sure hope not! Although the rest of the highs in that song were better, it still didn’t have that sound that they did in Vigilance. Thankfully, my doubt was saved by New World Order when for that split second, he uttered out a scream that took me back to 2009 when I first heard his voice. So the vocals on this album get my stamp of approval.
I do remember listening to Fallen Disciples when the band posted it on their Facebook (just keep in mind that I don’t have a Facebook account). The unfortunate thing that I remembered about it was that it wasn’t quite as fulfilling and satisfying as I would have liked, but I was going to just let the album play through without me skipping from song to song. Although the first three tracks were AMAZING, I was still looking for something more; something that was going to put that HUGE smile on my face like the third track on Vigilance did. The song that really gave me high hopes was Trust in None. But I still wasn’t getting that feeling!
This is where patience is required, because some bands like to save the best for last. When the opening guitar riff for Disposition leaped out at me, I knew that this was the one. Disposition is like a modernized song from Vigilance. The thing that reminds me of Vigilance in this song is that really complex…I guess you could call it a really fast breakdown (although I wouldn’t consider it a breakdown in any case). Disposition shows every side of Threat Signal that you remember from their previous material and many new sides. When this song finished, my neck was hurting and I instantly had to replay the song before continuing to make sure that I wasn’t hallucinating.
One thing that I feel I should be able to say is whether this album is better than Vigilance or not. Here’s my answer to that question: this album isn’t better than Vigilance, but Vigilance isn’t any better than this (in other words neither of them is better than the other). This is an album I would give a perfect score for blowing me away despite the misleading statements my friend gave me. I would recommend this to anyone, even if they’re not a fan of the metalcore genre, because this isn’t the “stereotypical” metalcore, this is the LEGIT stuff!