Sky Eats Airplane - Sky Eats Airplane
Record Label: Equal Vision Records
Release Date: July 22, 2008
It’s amazing how much can change in two years.
When I first picked up Sky Eats Airplane’s debut album, Everything Perfect On the Wrong Day, I was floored. The spastic sonic amalgam (of equal parts hardcore, metal, and electronica) that Sky Eats Airplane had managed to hodge-podge into an album turned out to be one of the sleepers of 2006. That’s not to say that combinations of electronica and hardcore have never been done before; quite the contrary (The Screamers were doing it way back in the 1970s), but Sky Eats Airplane did it really, really well, and introduced the concept to scenesters everywhere looking for a change of pace in a quickly stagnating genre.
Since the independent release of their debut in 2006, the band has gained a solid fan base (primarily via cyberspace), and, as is shown time and time again, with rising popularity inevitably comes imitators. It’s hard to tell how much of this influence can be directly attributed to Sky Eats Airplane, but the point is, this trend has taken hold so quickly that it is no longer exciting to find a band that blends electronics with heavy music. In fact, at this point it’s become more of a gimmick than any kind of real innovation. In a perfect world, the bellwethers are able to separate themselves from their imitators in subsequent efforts (see: Underoath’s transition from They’re Only Chasing Safety to Define the Great Line), but unfortunately, Sky Eats Airplane, the band’s Equal Vision debut, does nothing to differentiate the band from the rest of the pack. To make things worse, the album lacks the excitement and catchiness of its predecessor.
That being said, the album does have definite strong points. New vocalist Jerry Roush’s vocals are just as passionate (“Numbers” and “Alias”) as Brack Cantrell’s were (even if not as much in the forefront of the music) and the instrumentation is something that would most aptly (and tritely) be described as ‘controlled chaos.’ The drums pound and the guitars singe, as a single listen to the one minute, twenty-eight second tumult that is “Machines” will immediately prove (also see "Disconnected"). Furthermore, the electronic elements, while still very prevalent, work more in unison with the rest of the instrumentation than in Everything Perfect On the Wrong Day, which, despite being generally fantastic, became overdone at points (as if the band was trying too hard to assert, “Hey look, we’ve got a synth!”).
Probably the greatest strength of this album, though, is the higher production quality afforded them by Equal Vision and Brian McTernan (Circa Survive, Thrice). Each sound stands on its own feet, and helps to keep the onslaught of various sounds from becoming muddied with each other (“Long Walks on Short Bridges,” “The Artificial” and “Machines”).
Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, the album fails to capture the catchiness witnessed in the band’s debut. There are no songs that will grab hold the way “Giants in the Ocean” or “Honest Hitchhikers Asking for Cash Handouts” did (although “Transparent” and “The Artificial” come really close at points). Some ground is made up in the album’s sense continuity (which was generally absent in Everything Perfect On the Wrong Day), but the cohesion is not nearly enough to remedy the monotony created by one-too-many downright uninspired moments.
In the end, the real problem with this album is that not only have you heard it done before, you’ve heard it done better before. Hopefully, Sky Eats Airplane will be able to create something that can top their debut album in the future, as it is clearly within their ability. I guess we’ll just have to wait two more years to find out.