Issues - Black Diamonds EP
Record Label: Rise (Velocity)
Release Date: November 13, 2012
It's not nearly often enough that the recently beaten-to-death metalcore scene is given something new to digest, yet two years ago marked the introduction of something--rather, someone--that seemingly had the potential to be just that in Tyler Carter. When Woe, Is Me put out their debut full-length album Number[s] in August of 2010, Carter was only 18, and it was quickly conceded that they would've been just another run-of-the-mill "Risecore" band if not for him; thus, they both gained attention at breakneck speed. With all of the drama circulating within the band and lineup instability, we were very much left wondering what would be next for the band. When the high school-esque comments and Twitter fights subsided, it became consistently more apparent that they were finally getting ready to head back into the studio and duke it out with their music. Carter assembled the remnants of the band, gathered a couple of new faces in AJ Rebollo (guitars) and Case Snedecor (drums), and created his new "heavy" group, Issues. Yes, teams ex-Woe, Is Me and new-Woe, Is Me were formed, and both grew increasingly eager to get back at the other with time.
Black Diamonds' release on Tuesday featured a sound we've heard before in Number[s], but with a fresh twist. In this release, Carter is back and better than ever. He performs at a level that would otherwise steal the show if every other member of the band wasn't also extremely noteworthy. Listen. We all know the kid can sing. Just barely old enough to be a junior in college, Carter swooned scenie-weenies across the country with his soul-influenced voice and had them reminiscing of the good ol' days of Jonny Craig on Downtown Battle Mountain and Relativity. His draw from other more mainstream genres help him assemble some of the catchiest vocal melodies I've heard in a while. All the while, Rebollo molests our ears with verses and breakdowns so syncopated, they could've made their way onto a simpler Periphery album, and Snedecor provides a solid backbeat throughout. Unclean vocalist Michael Bohn also shines on this record, showing off his range and expertise of the art and doing it justice once again. After just one listen through, it's safe to say that Round 1 goes to these guys.
If one thing else is for sure, it's that these guys sure as hell know how to promote themselves. They released the EP's lead single "King of Amarillo" in early October, and from then on I was hooked waiting for more. While the song itself isn't extremely special, it easily defined the band's sound for first-time listeners and featured all the members. Next up is "The Worst of Them," what I consider to be the record's crowning moment. Carter destroys the song on vocals, showing off his poppy side and leaving us with a chorus that's sure to get stuck in some heads. "Love, Sex, Riot" is an anthem about, well, gettin' dirty, and features a verse by Atilla's Chris Fronzak as well as their poppier side.
None of this is to say that the album didn't have its blemishes, too. For starters, the eponymous intro "Black Diamonds" essentially serves no purpose in being there. Spanning a little under two minutes, this weird mash of house, rap, and whatever else it may be does little to set up the first real song of the album, leaving behind an extremely confused and sour taste. "Her Monologue" also doesn't do the best job of wrapping up the EP, but that's not to say that it isn't a good song. There are also a couple of moments where it's obvious that the band is trying too hard (i.e: The bridge in "King of Amarillo" that sounds like an angry Justin Timberlake excerpt), but none of these things take away from the record's gold.
For all the anticipation this release has had built for it, I'd say its expectations are pretty much met. Carter shines, it retains that ex-Woe, Is Me sound, all while pushing a bit past metalcore and still satisfying its biggest fans. Love 'em or hate 'em, Issues have a story to tell for us all, and they ain't going away for a while.
This EP was a partial letdown for me. It's pretty catchy and funny to listen to, but it sticks to the generic Rise-core sound. I thought that after quitting Woe, Is Me, Tyler and Michael would have tried something quite different. I wasn't expecting anything of trascendental, of course, but neither a Number[s] Billboard-tinged remake.
I don't really see this project as Number[s] 2.0. That CD had notable/melodic leads galore which is sorely lacking in Issues. There's nothing interesting in this guitar work unfortunately - it's all just variations of low end chugging. Also, a lot of Tyler's parts are more cocky and less soulfull than what on Number[s].
I reckon when they bring out an album they will iron out the issues (no pun intended) on the EP and make a brilliant debut. I loved the first Woe, is me album as quite a few on here do as well. Definitely not your average 'Rise Records' band and there is no denying the incredible talent of Tyler Carter.
It concerns me that I like this as much as I do. The first Issues song I heard was their 'Boyfriend' cover, and I was pretty impressed but I wasn't expecting to like their originals. But damn, this is fun, if not great by any stretch of the imagination.