Jamie’s Elsewhere - Rebel-Revive
Record Label: Unsigned
Release Date: April 8, 2014
After a long hiatus due to the departure of dynamic frontman Aaron Pauley, Jamie’s Elsewhere released their third full-length album, Rebel-Revive, without a record label or management this spring. Rebel-Revive is the first album to feature third vocalist Justin Kyle, primarily an R&B and pop singer, who took on the role of both clean and unclean vocals for the band. Rebel-Revive is Jamie’s Elsewhere’s attempt to persist after many bands would have given up; interestingly, it works pretty well, if not in a completely different way than They Said A Storm Was Coming.
Album opener “Empty Eyes” wastes no time showing the listener the strongly metal tone to the album; detuned chugs and string bending are placed behind enraged vocalist Justin Kyle, bellowing, “I refuse to lie awake in this bed while the world holds its gravity over my head. You call this ignorance? I call your ignorance,” as cinematic strings and tightly mixed drumming pump the song forward. Kyle’s screams are superb for an R&B singer. He has no trouble leading the band’s sound and is clearly at home within the metal genre as well as pop. “Empty Eyes” is a powerful track, leading to an up-tempo clean chorus with bells and traditional drop D chord progressions. The song features faintly stuttered synthesizer backgrounds and an equal balance of melody and brutality. The song features guest vocals from The Color Morale’s Garrett Rapp. Kyle screams his lungs out, “Every day I feel my ambition amplifying, and I every day I see my dreams come true,” followed by another chorus and breakdown, ending the song. The most pertinent aspect of “Empty Eyes” is how it sets the beefy tone for the rest of the album – the music is thick with guitar, drum, and bass presence, largely placing electronics and sound effects to the back of the speakers.
Track two, “Closure”, begins with an intricate guitar solo by founding member Matt Scarpelli, leading into a tight breakdown backed by Kyle’s tormented screaming. “Closure” shows off Nick Sampson’s production chops, cleverly using high pass filters and vocal gates to add a uniquely gnarly mix to the song. Kyle’s presence is, as always, tremendously undeniable in his unclean vocal sections. The song is lyrically vivid, as Kyle seems to lose it, raging, “Stare into the eyes of the beast, as he sets fire to lake. Framed, your expression as he opens up the gates.”
Track three, “The Illusionist,” is more pop flavored, opening with power chord melodies and Kyle’s clean vocals. The song is the first on the album to focus on Justin Kyle’s clean singing instead of his aggressive screams, and Issues singer Tyler Carter appears as a guest vocalist. Kyle’s screams are featured and add some grit to the material, but overall this track is more radio friendly and accessible to a larger audience. The fourth song, “Rebel-Revive” is dynamic and dramatic, opening with a guitar solo by Scarpelli and Kyle’s clean vocals. “Rebel-Revive” is not risky, opting for more traditional verse-chorus-verse songwriting, but it’s written with such thick instrumentation that it is enjoyable. Kyle’s clean vocals are clear and authentic, adding a genuine tone to a music scene that is too often plagued by cookie cutter clean vocalists.
The fifth song, “The Cover Up”, is one of my favorites, as it opens at breakneck speed, tearing through the speakers with melodic guitar leads and anthemic synth strings. The song pumps forward with intricate guitar lines. “The Cover Up” is more aggressive than previous tracks, mainly due to a faster tempo and more distinct songwriting. The sixth song, “In Depth Perception”, is a bit of an experiment on the band’s part – it opens with a low register guitar melody and Kyle’s subdued clean vocals, developing into a slower, more thoughtful song. Atmospheric sound effects pass through the speakers as Kyle narrates and drumming increases in presence. “In Depth Perception” is a departure from the band’s traditional songwriting. Notable on this track are the guest vocals provided by pop singer Dev, who seamlessly intertwines with Kyle’s narration. While unconventional, the song acts as halfway point throughout the album.
Track seven, “Back Stabber,” is lyrically simple yet genuinely terrifying as Kyle commands the song, “The worst of the enemy is what they pretend to be. Pathetic human beings. Just another wasted space in the human race,” using every syllable to spit on an ex-friend. The music is dark and dramatically heavy, paralleling Kyle’s embittered vocals. The clean chorus of the song is one of the best on the record, managing to avoid being cheesy or seem unnecessary. "Back Stabber" is the angriest song on the album.
Song eight, “Capital Vices,” opens with a drum and guitar solo. The song is the most varied on the entire album, as dynamic vocalist Phil Druyor from I Am Abomination is featured, soaring besides Kyle, backed by orchestral effects. Druyor’s presence is maintained throughout the song and in the choruses, without overpowering Kyle who maintains his screamed verses.
The ninth song, “Sick Fiction”, was the band’s first single for Rebel-Revive, and opens with dark choir effects and a driving tempo. The guitars are distorted and angry, as Kyle jumps in, screaming, “Times have changed, everyone’s contending for the bigger name,” referencing the superficial music scene today. Aggressive breakdowns and powerful screams are featured, making “Sick Fiction” one of the beefier tracks on the album. Kyle’s clean chorus is especially catchy on this track, as he declares his devotion to honesty and integrity. He sings, “If you don’t speak from the heart, pack your shit and leave,” followed by a gritty breakdown. “Sick Fiction” features an ambient interlude, as distant guitar chords and drums guide Kyle’s clean, smooth narration.
Final track, “Sleepless Nights”, continues like an afterthought of “Sick Fiction,” with metal riffs and string bends. Kyle seems to be at the edge of insanity as he expresses his grief over leaving his son to pursue music, “You think it’s easy to leave my blood? You think it’s easy to hear him cry?” and as the song continues, he addresses who appears to be his father. Kyle declares, “There’s not a piece of you in me, twenty four years never to be seen, I’ll never be like you,” and this song begins to hit home quite hard. While the song begins to become more anthemic in tone, it ends abruptly, as Kyle shrieks his final message to the listener, “Make sure to hold your loved ones close, because there’s an end to every road," breaking the fourth wall on the album at the last possible moment.
Overall, Rebel-Revive is a strong return for the band. Many fans, including myself, were expecting less of Jamie’s Elsewhere considering how instrumental Aaron Pauley was in getting our attention for the band, but Justin Kyle does his part and more to assume the role of frontman - he provides vivid lyrics and aesthetically unique vocal styles. Musically, the band seems to have stepped up their game in terms of guitar work and drumming as well. In addition, the production quality on Rebel-Revive is a breath of fresh air compared to other recent releases in the genre. Rebel-Revive is worth every penny in my opinion.
Yyyeeeaaahhh, no. This record does not distinguish itself from the metalcore pack in any way and is entirely forgettable. Just because a record is better than the band's previous work, does not mean that it is amazing.