Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sleeping with Sirens - Feel

There are always two or three bands in the screamo/metalcore genre that are just taking over. Pierce the Veil and Sleeping with Sirens are exploding with fame right now. So, in response to noticing that, I gave the newest Pierce the Veil record a listen and wrote a review on it recently. So now, it’s time for Sleeping with Sirens! Their new album, Feel, was released almost three months ago, and was literally an instant hit. I mean, it’s not super often anymore that a metal/rock album sells over 60,000 copies in its first week of release (20,000 more than the new Marilyn Manson album, 8,000 more than the new Lamb of God album, see what I’m talking about?). So obviously, Feel’s predecessor was the band’s major breakthrough, because well…why else would have these guys been so fucking huge last year? But the amount of reception and attention Feel has caused puts anything these guys have already done to fucking shame, it just doesn’t even compare. So after witnessing all of that, and after a month’s hesitation, I decided to give this a listen on the off-chance that it might end up being like Pierce the Veil and not be a pile of shit.

Categorizing Sleeping with Sirens is actually harder once you’ve listened to them (which is usually a good sign). But basically…I guess a way to put it is to imagine Saosin with occasional screaming. These guys definitely have a screamo feel, but the predictable dark and heavy feeling that comes with so many of these bands can’t be found here. In fact, literally in the first two seconds of the opening track, you’re drowned in a wave of an upbeat melody filled with all sorts of colors. I’m not one that normally pays attention to lyrics, but even the lyrics of this song paint pictures of life, realization, and recovery instead of the hopelessness and sorrow most would expect. We’re not even halfway through the first song and there’s almost nothing generic about these guys. But remember, that’s not always a good thing, because it’s much easier to fuck things up.

It’s not too hard to see what the major problem people have with Sleeping with Sirens is, and that’s their singer. If you’re on the internet and don’t live under a rock, you’ve heard the name “Kellin Quinn” at least twice in some way or another. Why is this guy so fucking unbearable to some people? It’s because of his EXTREMELY high-pitched singing voice. We’re talking higher than Styx, Coheed and Cambria, Michael Jackson, Robert Plant, A Skylit Drive, and anything else you might consider to be very high-pitched. But the thing is, he doesn’t have a girly tone to his voice like many singers in his range. It’s that difference that bothers people so much. Now that I’ve said that I can understand how that bothers a lot of people, I feel comfortable with saying that I’m the type of person that can get used to that kind of singing fairly quickly. And on top of that, Mr. Quinn has almost everything that I look for in a singer.

He’s never out of tune, he puts all of his energy into his singing, he demonstrates an ability to maintain a good dynamical range (is not always loud or always quiet), he never overdramatizes anything, he has a unique sound, and most importantly, the amount of emotion in his voice is so immense I can’t put it into words. The only issue that I have is that he never steps into lower pitches for more than ten seconds. I mean, he obviously knows that he has a very uncommon ability because that’s almost all he does, but the constant high-pitched singing gets very irritating after a while, even after I get used to it in the beginning.

The rest of the band doesn’t leave me with much to say because…well…there really isn’t anything special or really bad about them. None of the members are outstanding; they’re just average and get the job done with the minimum. The drummer’s patterns are okay, but they get very boring and agonizingly predictable after the first minute of each song. I can’t even hear the bassist except for a few bits and pieces where the guitars aren’t going at full-force. Although the mood of the music is very strong, most of the emotion is just coming from the vocals, which in the end leaves the rest of the music being bland and unmemorable.

Rise Records made a big fucking deal out of the four guest appearances on the album, which include the Memphis May Fire vocalist, Fronz of the deathcore band Attila, Shayley Burget of Dayshell, and one of my favorite rappers, Machine Gun Kelly (aka MGK). They really didn’t need to make as big of a deal out of it as they did, but I will admit that I was very surprised with how well the MGK appearance turned out. MGK’s very emotional and intense rapping met very well with the energy of the song. But to be honest, the other guest appearances don’t really make any sort of contribution whatsoever, making them not even necessary.

Sleeping with Sirens isn’t the band that the arrogant elitists are describing. If they even listened to this album once, their description would be completely different. The most positive thing that I can say about this album is that the vocals are outstanding. They have flaws, but I was fucking surprised with how great they are. Besides that, the album is filled with unmemorable songs with unique melodies that grow unbearably predictable way too fast, repetitive song structures, and overly simplistic instrumentals. There really isn’t anything that this album leaves behind that I can consider to be memorable. There are, though, three particular songs that I still thoroughly enjoy, which are Feel, Alone (ft. MGK), and Déjà vu. Other than those three songs, this album is enjoyable, but easily forgettable. I would give Feel a barely below-average score of 9/20, which is a much higher score than what I was expecting to give them. But this album is definitely worth at least one listen, even if it’s just those three tracks.