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Album Review
Issues - Black Diamonds EP Album Cover

Issues - Black Diamonds EP

Reviewed by
6.9
IssuesBlack Diamonds
Record Label: Rise / Velocity Records
Release Date: November 13th, 2012
Vocalist Tyler Carter has had his fair of drama over the last year; first being the frontman of GA post-hardcore band Woe, Is Me, then to being the ex-vocalist for said band. He left the band due to creative differences in 2011, and decided that the rock star lifestyle wasn’t for him. Fair enough, right? Well, he had plans to release a solo EP, in the vein of R&B/pop artists, and actually released a song called “Staying Alive.” The song wasn’t half bad, because he sang it with vocalist Roy English, who has a voice quite similar to Carter’s. It seems plans for the release of that EP have been put on hold, because Carter announced in early 2012 plans for a new band with former members of Woe, Is Me (who left after Carter did), that include former screamer Michael Bohn (of WIM), and former keyboardist of Woe, Is Me Ben Harris. Harris ironically left the band before debut EP Black Diamonds even was released. The band’s name is Issues, which I find rather funny, because it’s clear that Carter and Bohn had some issues with their former band, because I almost get the impression that they started Issues to get back at the members of Woe, Is Me. It seems farfetched, but what made my eyebrows perk up was both Issues and Woe, Is Me released debut singles on the same day, both talking smack about the other band. This “feud” is long drawn out, I know, but a part of me thinks this was just a set up by Rise Records for publicity, because both bands are on the same label. If the bands hated each other so much, why sign to the same label? That’s just another mystery I don’t really care if I know the answer to. It seems they’ve settled their differences, but first single by Issues, “King of Amarillo” was rather interesting, nonetheless. It was a rather generic chug-a-long, but featured bits of R&B, which sparked my interest. Carter’s voice has an R&B sound, and I really like it. His voice is well suited for that kind of music, so I’m a bit disheartened he didn’t release his solo EP instead. Regardless, aside from the generic chugging on the song, the lyrics were also god-awful. They were all about Woe, Is Me, and how awful they are. In a way, this “feud” just seems like two thirteen year old girls in middle school. It’s pointless, and they’ll forget about it within a week or so. Sadly, though, fans of both bands ate it up, I’m sure. I’m sure the target audience for both of these bands are the 13 – 16 year old Hot Topic goers who don’t listen to anything but these kinds of bands. Regardless, though, it was interesting, and it made me curious to listen to the rest of the EP. So, how is it? Well, for starters, I’ll say it’s better than Woe, Is Me’s Geneis[s], but that’s not saying a lot.

The EP starts off with “Intro,” which is exactly what it says it is. So many bands have “intros” and they’re just not that good. This intro, however, is just plain weird. It’s dubstep, and it’s kinda awful. It doesn’t start the album out on a nice note, to be honest. I don’t like dubstep, but even if I did, this intro is a bit strange. Don’t judge this EP on this song, even it’s really weird. Honestly, though, I would describe the whole EP as “weird,” because they throw way too many sounds into it, and instead of being cohesively, it just comes out as a jumbled mess. The intro is very awkward, but it leads into even more awkward “King of Amarillo,” which is the first single. This song is awful in every single way. It starts with Bohn screaming some cliché lines about how awful Woe, Is Me is with chug-chug guitar riffs in between the chorus, where Carter shines. In the middle of the song, there’s some weird record scratching, too. It’s just really out of place, and it doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t have a great impression of this band so far. Carter’s vocals are great, and he does get some vocal time, thankfully. There is a really interesting bridge that features an R&B-esque part. It’s very ambitious, but it’s quickly ditched for another breakdown. I could do without the breakdowns, honestly. That’s the main thing keeping this band from being anything more than generic; even the little interesting flourishes of creativity aren’t worth it when there’s a breakdown every few notes. Lyrically, “King of Amarillo” is awful as well. They shouldn’t have made that song the first single, or the second song on the album. It doesn’t leave a good taste in my mouth, so to speak.

Thankfully, third song “The Worst of Them,” does save the EP a little bit. This one starts off with Carter singing, and it has a weird pop chorus, but it works, to some degree. The guitar work here is really interesting, too. This song doesn’t have the cliché chug-chug breakdowns, at least for the first minute or two. It’s almost like this band combines R&B, post-hardcore, and pop. That’s a weird combination, but this song demonstrates well, to some degree. The lyrics are also a little bit better, too. They’re still rather generic, but they’re not a constant jab at Woe, Is Me. This song also doesn’t feature Bohn’s screams as much, either. His screams aren’t bad, but I don’t want to hear them constantly, either. Next track “Princeton Avenue” returns to the chug-chug breakdown formula, sadly. The lyrics aren’t half bad, and do attempt to have some meaning. Carter’s vocals are nice as usual, and he delivers them in an R&B-like way. They were rather contrasting with Bohn’s screams, but it just sounds so weird. The bridge also has an interesting, albeit strange, R&B/pop “breakdown” and it’s combined with a metalcore breakdown, too. While they are rather ambitious, this EP is just really weird, because it’s a jumble of sounds. And sadly, it just comes off very generic.

Next track “Love, Sex, Riot” is another one of these “weird” tracks. It begins with a breakdown and some record scratching, which literally made me say “What?” out loud. It succumbs to the genericore sound, though; the chorus is an exception, however, and if anything, the catchy choruses is the only thing this band does well. The rest of this EP is just a lot of weird effects and breakdowns. I don’t know if it’s Bohn, but there is some really weird screaming in the middle and the end of the song. Last track, “Her Monologue” comes really close to Carter’s R&B-laden sound on his solo material, but it just seems they threw unnecessary breakdowns into it.

Basically, this EP is pretty ambitious, but it comes across as boring and generic. There’s no way I would listen to this again, because I can’t get past how boring and uninspired the breakdowns are. Every attempt of creativity on this EP is overshadowed by breakdown after breakdown. The only song without a single breakdown is intro. The middle of the EP is rather decent, but the first two songs and the last two are just unbearable. Not as unbearable as Woe, Is Me’s new material, but regardless, it’s terrible. A part of me wants to like this band, but I just can’t. It seems like this band was created to get back at Woe, Is Me and/or for Tyler Carter to just find an excuse to make post-hardcore again. Don’t get me wrong, being generic doesn’t mean something is terrible, but it can be fun. This attempts to be fun, but it’s not even that. It’s just awkward, and weird. I know that there are people who genuinely enjoy this band/EP, and that’s fine, because there are some interesting things about them, but not enough to keep my interest.

Recommended If You Like Tyler Carter in Woe, Is Me, generic post-hardcore.


Additional Information
Track Listing:
1. Intro
2. King of Amarillo
3. The Worst of Them
4. Princeton Ave
5. Love Sex Riot
6. Her Monologue

Issues is:
Tyler Carter – clean vocals
Michael Bohn – harsh vocals
AJ Rebollo – guitar
Ty Acord – keyboards
Case Snedecor – drums
Jake Vinston - bass



www.facebook.com/issuesofficial
This review is a user submitted review from justbradley. You can see all of justbradley's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 7 of 7
10:24 AM on 11/26/12
#2
geetarjizosh
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"I could honestly do without the breakdowns, honestly."

May want to edit that redundancy. Very honest review.
04:15 PM on 11/27/12
#3
justbradley
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"I could honestly do without the breakdowns, honestly."

May want to edit that redundancy. Very honest review.
Did I really write that? Oh my! I always try not to do that... Haha. But thanks!
10:22 AM on 11/29/12
#4
docdasuess
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I am confused as to why you did a review of Issues. From what you wrote, it sounds like you would much rather go listen to Usher, Justin Bieber or Frank Ocean. If you don't like screaming and breakdowns why listen to a band that has screaming and breakdowns? Issues state the reason for starting this group was to do a mix of R&B vocals with rap screaming within the hardcore genre. The production quality is top notch (shout out to Kris Crummet) and the whole thing works if you don't approach it with the cookie cutter mindset. Sadly, it appears you only view things in 1's and 0's and can't really move beyond a 2 dimensional grasp of how "music" should be created.
11:39 PM on 11/29/12
#5
justbradley
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I am confused as to why you did a review of Issues. From what you wrote, it sounds like you would much rather go listen to Usher, Justin Bieber or Frank Ocean. If you don't like screaming and breakdowns why listen to a band that has screaming and breakdowns? Issues state the reason for starting this group was to do a mix of R&B vocals with rap screaming within the hardcore genre. The production quality is top notch (shout out to Kris Crummet) and the whole thing works if you don't approach it with the cookie cutter mindset. Sadly, it appears you only view things in 1's and 0's and can't really move beyond a 2 dimensional grasp of how "music" should be created.
I do like screaming and breakdowns; I listen to a lot of post-hardcore / metalcore, but I didn't find anything too fantastic about this. The R&B parts were really cool, but they were overshadowed by a generic breakdown, and that's what kept me from really liking this. Tyler Carter's got one heck of a voice, and I think they should've just let him shine, rather than make everything as heavy as possible.
03:29 PM on 01/08/13
#6
almightykingdom
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The "intro" reminds me of Attack Attack's Hot Grills intro track. I'll be honest, I applaud trying something different. It doesn't fit well into the EP. That being said, if they second track was "The Worst of Them" instead of "King of Amarillo" the EP would be more accepted. I also think that their has to be something else beside the monotonous chugs that could help them structure a song together. Overall, the EP is a one time listener and a possible multiple listens to specific tracks.
07:56 PM on 02/13/13
#7
epetershagen
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I must say this review was a bit harsh and does seem as if you may have picked an album to review from a style of music you have some sort of personal dislike for?? Either way this band knew what market they were selling to and with that said it was genius which is why kids are eating it up, probably just as the band planned along with rise records.I understand where there coming from with the direction they went for this, you cant abandon the "chug-a-along" because that's what the scene there selling to is built around and then the r&b style vocals is something that has been becoming very tasteful in the scene as well (Kellin Quinn, Jonny Craig). Its generic enough to still sell, along with their own dash of something different to stand out as well.

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