Inhale Exhale – I Swear...
Record Label: Solid State Records
Release Date: June 10, 2008
I Swear... finds Inhale Exhale still rolling out pure headbanging, gritty brutality; only this time, the band is at its creative best. While the album does not have the immediate metalcore accessibility of the band’s first record, it shows positive growth in many different areas and is ultimately a much more intelligent, intense, and varied album than its predecessor.
One of the biggest changes in the band’s sound can be attributed to lead vocalist Ryland Raus. In The Lost. The Sick. The Sacred., the band’s 2006 release, Raus was brought on-board in order to re-record vocals on an already finished album after Andy Levy, the original vocalist, left the band for unexplained reasons. As such, he was confined within a sound that had already been created, and was forced to imitate Levy’s sound. On I Swear..., Raus makes ample use of the room he is given to grow and explore his own talent, and while his impressive passionate belt (from The Lost. The Sick. The Sacred.) still makes plenty of appearances, this is only a part of his vocal repertoire in I Swear.... Taking nods from Maylene & the Sons of Disaster (and ex-Underoath) front man Dallas Taylor, Raus uses a blended yell/wail/scream (“It’s Myself Vs. Being a Man”), alongside guttural growls (“Is The Fact That I’m Trying It, Doing It For You?”) and at some points, even a Southern-BBQ-seared rasp (“Fluvanna”). Additionally, after the departure of backup vocalist Bobby Poole II (who handled singing duties), Raus also sings now, and shows that harsh vocals are not his only strong point.
“I Needed a Spaceship (Instead I Got Problems),” opens with a bang, fusing a tense soaring guitar undertone with a throttling bass riff and Raus belting, “The chase is about to come to an end,” with a depth that reminds listeners of Atreyu’s Alex Varkatzas (only less throaty). Guitarist John LaRussa has also stepped up his guitar-work, using a quick-snapping riff throughout the bridge and chorus. The opening track also showcases another element of growth in Inhale Exhale: the abandonment of genre-typical song structures (harsh vocals and instrumentation during the verses and softer vocals and more streamlined instrumentation during the chorus) in favor of hard-rocking spontaneity, which leaves listeners clueless as to what will happen at any given moment (in a good way).
The experimentation continues in, “It’s Myself Vs. Being a Man,” one of the best tracks on the album. Within a matter of a minute, the band transitions from a searing guitar riff and Raus’ pleading wail (“Who said this won’t be perfect?”) into a crunching sludge-fest. When Raus yells, “Something’s not right in this house / This room I lay my head is haunted by mistakes / Crimes of passion? / Or was it the way they were raised?” listeners become aware that Inhale Exhale have stepped up their songwriting. While still very potently Christian in message, the band opts for a more stylized delivery in I Swear…, as opposed to the overly blatant writing in The Lost. The Sick. The Sacred. That being said, the lyrics are by no means indecipherable; in fact they are very prevalent and straightforward, they are just more interesting and varied this time around.
The album also shows Inhale Exhale getting grittier, featuring more than a few moments that could have been pulled from a Pantera album. Crunchy, grimy bass lines are used throughout the album, and the general presence of the bass is more noticeable than in their previous effort, which helps add to the Southern flare of the album. “The Impatient Will Suffer,” “Drink Till We Drop,” and (standout song) “Fluvanna” will unquestionably make you wish you were out mudding in a 4x4.
While I Swear..., does exhibit many changes, the band is still clearly Inhale Exhale. “I’ll Die With No Friends And a Grin on My Face,” sounds like it could have been a track off of The Lost. The Sick. The Sacred., with a get-your-heart-pounding guitar riff, thudding tom beats, and a catchy, foot-stomping, sing-along chorus.
In short, I Swear... is a rejuvenation in a genre that sorely needs one. Don’t miss out; get this album.
I got the honor of hearing some of the new songs live back in march at one of their shows with gwen stacy, and they were amazing live. Inhale Exhale is one of my favorite bands, i'm picking up this cd as soon as i get the cash.
i saw these guys at a Christian music festival.
a Christian music festival that forbade moshing in any way, shape or form..
this is [kind of ] a quote from Ryland about midway though their unfairly short set:
"now we know you guys aren't allowed to mosh. but if there WERE a time for moshing, it would be right about now. we would never tell you to do such a thing though. -whispers- one. two. THREE!]"
it was insane. insanely awesome.
and the fact that that Ryland signed my tshirt was even better.
oh. excellent review, by the way.
Reviewer needs to listen to better metalcore, so that you may understand how mediocre this is.
You have good writing skills but you just almost made me burst out laughing with this, "In short, I Swear... is a rejuvenation in a genre that sorely needs one."
Oh the genre def needs a rejuvenation but you sadly mistaken if you think this is it.
I'm not trying to bash you it's just you need a better understanding of the genre, for which then you can apply your writing skills and create a more accurate review.