Monday, June 18, 2012

I the Breather - Truth and Purpose

I’m going to be honest: as a whole, I’m not a big fan of the metalcore genre, but there are several amazing metalcore bands. Just to list off a few of my favorite metalcore bands, there’s Miss May I, Threat Signal, Mnmeic, Killswitch Engage, Structures, Oh, Sleeper, Eyes Set to Kill, and Atreyu. Although there are others I enjoy listening too (like As I Lay Dying and God Forbid), those are ones that are most worthy of mentioning. I’m not an elitist in any kind of way, but I’m not too keen on the majority of the “generic” metalcore scene. I do like some bands from this area of the genre, but 97% of them seem to be either terrible or purely mediocre. Well, a week ago, I had one of those “oh what the hell” moments and decided to give a few of these generic metalcore bands that I’ve passed up for so long a listen. I’m not going to be considering this a series, but the first one I’ll be reviewing is I the Breather.

It seems that the generic metalcore sound has changed since I last remember. I remember the generic metalcore sound as being not so heavy and somewhat simple chord progressions (if any) like All that Remains, Atreyu, I Killed the Prom Queen, and Haste the Day (all of whom I used to really like…except for I Killed the Prom Queen…I only ever enjoyed one song by them). Now, the generic metalcore sound seems to be MUCH heavier, much more breakdown-based, much more Christian, and much, much simpler. Some people have gone to call these bands “hardcore”, a term that I personally despise. But I’m not here to rant about how the metalcore genre has evolved and transformed, I’m here to talk about one of the newer generic metalcore bands, I the Breather.

I’ve known about them for a while, maybe four months or so. But the thought of checking them out never crossed my mind. Now that I’ve listened to this album dozens of times over the past week, I’ve come to the conclusion that I the Breather is just another metalcore band, but they’re not quite EXACTLY what I expected them to be. Before I get into the majority of the album, which can be summed up in just a few sentences, I want to tell you about my first experience listening to the first track on the album, because I was so surprised that I had to restart the song before it was halfway through to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. The first song, False Prophet, starts off with a very soft keyboard/guitar line that I predicted would be playing in the background for the duration of the track. Then, the vocals kicked in and the extremely low-tuned guitars started chugging away like a bomb went off in my face. In other words, the first 1 ¼ minutes of this song were surprisingly powerful and epic.

I’ve been listening to these bands in anticipation to find the diamond in the rough, and during this song, a smile formed upon my face and I thought I had found the glimmering gem. After the intro “breakdown” I was waiting for it to be more than just breakdowns, and it turns out that this isn’t one of those “breakdown after breakdown” kind of bands. But after False Prophet ends, things start taking a not-so-good direction. First of all, the vocals aren’t really that good. The songs eventually start to drag on and become VERY repetitive and bland, which is easy to do with an epic sound like the one False Prophet brings. The drummer seems to be really unfocused on a lot of the tracks, which leads to confusion on whether the band is out of time or the drummer is falling behind. Once I finished the record, I was extremely disappointed at how False Prophet raised the bar so high and have none of the songs even come close to touching the bar with their fingertips.

The majority of these generic metalcore bands seem to worship and idolize August Burns Red (which is respectable because they are pretty damn amazing). Here’s the problem that I have with all these bands’ obsession with ABR: not only do they worship and fight to be one of the openers on the band’s next tour, but they create an EXREMELY similar (but not nearly as good and not nearly as technical) sound to ABR, which has led to what the world knows as the modern metalcore blueprint. That’s right people, August Burns Red might not be as big, but they’ve definitely become more influential than All that Remains, Killswitch Engage, Sonic Syndicate, As I Lay Dying, and (dare I say) Bullet for my Valentine. And I the Breather is nothing more than another brick in the wall of the ABR-influenced generic metalcore scene.

For those of you diehard metalcore fans that aren’t TOO picky but know a terrible band when they hear it, this album should be fairly easy to enjoy. I would give this album 9/20 for being nowhere near being the worst metalcore album ever, but nowhere near being something I would recommend and show to any of my friends. If you’re SUPER curious about what False Prophet sounds like, I think it’s a pretty fucking epic song and would at most recommend that one song.