Weekly Roundup: February 16, 2018

This week was especially heavy with noteworthy releases, one of which I have already touched on previously. Because the volume was just so huge, this is going to be a slightly truncated version of Weekly Roundup; just so I can touch on as much as I can.

American Nightmare -- Self Titled

RIYL: Killing the Dream, GIVE, Modern Life is War

Goddamn its been a long time. We're Down Til We're Underground came out literal ages ago and though the band's various members have been active in both hardcore and other music, frontman Wes Eisold seemed the real holdout for this reunion; happily releasing post-punk records under his Cold Caves project and occasionally disparaging his hardcore history. But that bitterness, it seems, protested too much--after some fun-as-hell reunion shows that I could not miss over the last several years, including at my much-beloved Sound and Fury Fest two years ago, the band hs put together a batch of new songs for LP3. And...surprisingly...it feels largely like they never stopped. American Nightmare always had skill working in a number of different influences through their releases--one of my favorite songs of theirs plays slow and quiet and threatening-- and that dynamic is maintained throughout this self titled release. Some songs are fast and loud and vicious like Sex Positions, and one or two slow it down to those Love American EP levels. All the while, however, the strength and ferocity of Eisold's voice rings out. Overall its a welcome relief from a lot of the same-sounding hardcore we have been getting of late and a welcome return for a much-beloved band.

Pianos Become the Teeth -- Wait For Love

RIYL: Balance and Composure, La Dispute, Moving Mountains

Almost all of Pianos Become the Teeth's releases hit you in a kind of stutter. The first couple listens you feel something but it really takes repeated listens for the records to truly flourish and bloom. As of yet, Wait For Love is no different. At once you are struck by just how far this band has come--from distant multi-waved screamo to delicate, brave emo. But the vocals are no longer so wavering, unsure and broken. They have settled into their own--soaring melodies with the same minor feelings. Wait For Love sounds almost ecstatic compared to their largely heartbreaking backlog. Keep You, especially, fell on the more emotional side, but Wait For Love feels warm, inviting, comforting--a signifier that the band has turned an emotional corner. It can be a little of a challenging listen, but that effort is never wasted on a PBtT release. 

Slaves -- Beautiful Death

RIYL: Emarosa, The Plot in You, Saosin

I really want to hate Johnny Craig. The man has taken part in more than his fair share of scumbag-ish douchebaggery. How much of it is due to the disease of addiction, how much to poor willpower, how much to entitlement, and how much to simple flaw of character we may never know but unfortunately for us all the man has been gifted with one of the more heavenly voices gracing our world. He's made his mark on releases from Dance Gavin Dance and Emarosa, creating landmark records for each of those bands, but as of yet his more djenty-pop Slaves project has yet to turn in the same kind of earth-shattering quality as his post-hardcore stuff. While his projects have always blended post hardcore with pop and r and b, Slaves seems particularly enamored of this approach but takes a lof of what is "in" about poppy djent-hardcore (a la Northlane, Erra, etc) with what is "in" about pop music and what comes out is...easily digestible--in both the pros and cons of the word. Its essentially easy listening for post hardcore, Craig's angelic voice gliding the listener through the record without ever touching the ground or leaving a mark and swiftly out, a pleasant time having been had but not much to remember it by.

Eyes Set to Kill -- Self Titled

RIYL: Evanescence, Paramore, In This Moment

Since their inception, ESTK has been an interesting band to watch evolve. From their original dyed-in-the-wool screamo roots that had the twist of a female clean singer (and one of the very few of their generation of screamo's bands to have that distinction) to a more and more pop-metal oriented band. At this point, they are five full lengths in--veterans in every sense of the word, and it shows. Their self-titled record has an unapologetic nature and confidence about it that was not present in the band's early releases. Where they may have started out more Atreyu, this project sees them adhering pretty closely to an Evanescence pop-metal vibe and utterly pulling it off. "Burn Down," the song that leads off the album is the kind of fist-pumping movie-closing record that Evanescence specialized in and ESTK have quite admirably honed in on that as a gap in the market with this record.

For the Fallen Dreams -- Six

RIYL: Texas in July, Buried in Verona, In Hearts Wake

It's kind of unbelievable to think that For the Fallen Dreams have made it to LP 6. It's a testament to the Warped economy that so many of this crop of midlevel fourth wave post-hardcore bands have survived this long at all--most of the original Risecore crop that poked their heads up after the Devil Wears Prada stuck their first shoots out and pollinated are, in fact, still churning out music. Like Moths to Flame, The Color Morale, The Word Alive, Of Mice and Men...they are legion. And, clean-singing-piping, breakdown heavy, pop-structured cogs that they are...they all keep churning out largely interchangeable releases...for good and ill. The good is that invariably most of the releases are pleasing and expected. The ill is that its frightfully hard to tell any given release, or any given band apart from the other. For the Fallen Dreams started out as one of the heavier bands of this corner of the scene, and then progressed inexorably towards a poppier A Day to Remember-like sound. Six doesn't do much to change this, but it keeps up the high quality of their releases, in general, intact. The breakdowns are still heavy as all hell, undercut with a deep electronic bass filler, the sing/scream dichotomy is still pleasing, all the parts are there. It's just that there isn't much there there. Its heavy. Its enjoyable enough in a mindless kind of way. You'll probably rock it some and forget about it unless its REALLY a grower.

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