Saturday, September 22, 2012

Make me Famous - It's Now or Never


Make me Famous is one of the newer Sumerian Records artists. Having just released their debut through the label this year, this Ukrainian screamo group has defied the modern stereotype and taken influences from several different genres in order to make the polar opposites of their sound more extreme than ever. Sumerian Records is known for being the placeholder for two fairly big screamo bands: I See Stars and Asking Alexandria, which are both known for implementing techno and electronic elements into their metal sound. Here are the differences between these two bands: I See Stars is much more techno-based than Asking Alexandria, and their metal parts are still very upbeat and more poppy. This still creates contrast, but nothing comparable to the widely-known Asking Alexandria, who is known for playing extremely crushing (and I mean CRUSHING) breakdowns with demonic growls that blend into a poppy techno-influenced sound in the same song. Image that, but with the techno parts being a bit more poppy and the heavier parts being even more heavy.

Once you imagine that, listen to one of Sumerian Record’s latest releases, the Make me Famous debut, It’s Now or Never. I blew this album off ever since I heard about its release because it literally seemed like just another screamo album following the recent trend of mixing techno and screamo. This trend is proving to be almost as bad as all the deathcore and metalcore bands implementing the djent style (created by Meshuggah) into their already overused breakdowns. Of course, when everyone first heard bands doing that (Born of Osiris, Veil of Maya, etc.), we all thought it was a pretty damn sick idea…that is…until seemingly everyone started doing it. This was the same thing with the mixing techno and screamo thing, we all thought it was a pretty cool idea when Underoath, Attack Attack!, Asking Alexandria, and other screamo bands that started doing that 4-5 years go, but after a while, it’s just started to get old. Everywhere you look, it seems that every other new screamo album has the same exact cookie-cutter sound, and it’s depressing!

One thing that I enjoy doing is sifting through all of these bands that seem to all play the exact same thing in search for the black sheep; the band that strives to progress that already overused sound and create newer and/or slightly different variations of it. Make me Famous is one of those bands. Never before have I heard a screamo band spread these polar opposites so fucking far apart. Not only that, but some of the elements that all of these other bands seem to have in their music (auto-tune singing, prissy lyrics, stuck-up attitudes, etc.) aren’t found on this album, which has caught me completely by surprise. Because I will admit, I was expecting just another less-skilled Asking Alexandria duplicate.

Here are some things that you should expect from Make me Famous (that name bothers me): just like almost all other bands on the Sumerian Records roster, they tend to overuse the breakdowns, but they make up for that by being extra creative with them. In a lot of their breakdowns, they use a jacked-up djent style to add complexity and variety, therefore eliminating any monotony in their music. That’s something that I’ve come to appreciate about this extremely complex Meshuggah style, it’s not like simple breakdowns where there are a limited number of tempo patterns that you can use, in the case of this style, as far as I’ve been able to comprehend, the different types of patterns that one can write is infinite. Of course, human beings aren’t totally perfect, and it shouldn’t be expected that once you hear a certain djent-styled pattern that you’ll NEVER hear it again in another band or album, because there are coincidences where a band will unintentionally write a pattern that has already been used before.

Make me Famous is one of the better composers of this style in the screamo genre. The majority of their breakdowns are far from generic, the song structures (most of the time) have tons of unexpected surprises and keep the listener completely engaged. But then again, once you’re about ¾ into the album, the breakdowns start to feel a little TOO frequent, which is mainly (to me) a matter of tolerance within the listener and also if it’s the kind of thing the listener wants to hear. If you’re looking for screamo with minimal breakdowns, this probably isn’t going to be something you’ll find enjoyable, you’d find Alesana, A Static Lullaby, and Underoath much more satisfying than this. But if you’re like me and can either tolerate or enjoy plenty of creative and catchy breakdowns that keep you headbanging without even knowing, this is a record that you should have in your collection for when you’re in the mood for this style of music.

Back to what I was saying before: the contrast. That’s the thing that I want to put the most emphasis on because that’s what sticks out to me as being the most unique quality of this band. The techno parts are definitely as techno-y as I See Stars, but not quite as upbeat. So a better way to put it is that the techno parts are not quite as upbeat as they are melodic. The heavy parts are easy comparable to that of Asking Alexandria; and in some cases, much heavier. The one thing I hate doing the most is judging a band on the looks of the members, but in some cases (because I’m merely human), I just can’t help myself. In other words, when I saw the picture of these guys on the Sumerian Records website, I simply passed it up as another I See Stars that played techno and pop rock with screaming. But obviously, I was greatly mistaken and I COMPLETELY underestimated the heaviness of Make me Famous. The growls aren’t what I would call SUPER deep, but they sure are fucking powerful. The screams aren’t the best that I’ve heard, but holy damn; they create a hell of a lot of contrast with the growls, which only make the growls sound deeper than they actually are. The singing is pristine. I can notice some amount of editing in the studio in order to give the singing a crisper sound, but there isn’t any auto-tune that I can hear at all, which is what I look for.

Make me Famous have caught me completely off-guard with their rock-solid debut release. I would recommend this to all fans of screamo and metalcore. Although I will admit that there’s one thing about this album that just bothers the motherfucking SHIT out of me, the fifth track. For those of you that don’t know anything about my music tastes, my favorite kind of music is none other than black metal. I’m not a black metal elitist or anything, but it sure as hell bothers me when a band writes a screamo song titled “This Song is Blacker than Black Metal”. I mean, what the hell is that supposed to be about? I’m not going to let that bother me TOO much because it mainly seems like they’re just trolling the Ukrainian black metal scene (Drudkh, Nokturnal Mortum, Gromm, Moloch, etc.), which I know that their drummer is a fan of. Anyway, I would give this album 14/20 for being a better-than-average screamo release that has proven to be written by a band that strives to push the limits of recent trends in order to expand their creative abilities.