"Days in Grief"...? About a month ago, my reaction to that name was the same as yours probably is now. This is the first wide published album by the Cologne-based band, their second overall. If I had to compare them to bands that are similar, the first names in my head are BoySetsFire and Thrice. The band plays Hardcore/Post-Hardcore, comparable to the likes of the bands mentioned above.
Some general impressions:
The musical work for this is solid. The drummer understands his work, from 'berzerk' Hardcore runs to supporting melodic passages, all done great IMO. The bass follows that pretty much, nothing really ground breaking, but done solid. It just fits. But that's probably because the bass player is also the main vocalist of the group. So maybe he's keeping it a bit more simplistsic to better concentrate on the vocals. I had to get used to the vocals though. The (singing) voice sounds pretty much like most US based punk/pop-punk bands sound. Like... for example Anti-Flag. That spoiled the fun a bit for me at first, but after getting used to it, it was half bad. I guess the screaming is often on the border of the capabilitys the voice chords can bear. From Doom-like grunting ('Blindfold') to clean vocals a lot is present on this album. The guitars are on a high level, the leads are with nice details, and 'playfull'... Reminded me quite a bit of the leads from Thrice's "Illusion of safety" in a way. Like I said, solid work, on a high level. The lyrics are on a pretty high level IMO, regarding speech and intelligence. The topics vary from political inspired lyrics ('Resentment and Disrespect', 'God curb America') to 'emo-ish' ('All inside', 'Pledge Allegiance To Demons Inside') all is present.
After the "Prologue" the listener is welcomed by the drum rolls and fast guitars of "Make Noise - The Revolution Sleeps", a mixture of wild hardcore, postcore-melodies and screamed vocals. This sets the course of the album well. Still, it won't get boring with the following tracks. "Shadows fall" and "The abstract feeling of being lost" show clear references to Thrice. The nice play with loud/silent passages is refreshing.
What was good:
Days in Grief are rooted in Hardcore, but don't limit themselfs to the 'crude' hardcore of school band days. 'Pledge allegiance to the demons inside' shows the variety well, at first sounding like a tribute to old metal heroes. But later on a straight rocking emotional piece with a lot of melody. The change between hard and fast, and mellow melodies is not re-invented here, but used in a very intelligent and refreshing way. Other good examples for this: 'Transitory' and 'A nation's distrust'. All in all the material is played tight and with a lot of energy from first to last song. I'm looking forward to see them live. If they show the love for details there as they do on the album... wow. :)
Nothing much I could wish for here.
What was good:
But everything has it's downsides. Like I mentioned above, the singing voice is a bit unoriginal. It sounds like the voice of so many punk based bands, especially when the vocals are melodic. That can spoil the expirience a bit, unfortunately. Plus, the production could have been a bit better on some of the tracks. They just seem a bit weaker sound-wise than other tracks. Which again can spoil the good musical work. Apart from that, good stuff.
This album will leave some mouths open, no question for me. In terms of Post-/Hardcore, there is not much from Germany that can compare to this. In the international ring... well, that's a harder thing to judge. With the clear neighbourhood to bands like Thrice or BoySetsFire, that's a darn hard competition. Which the 'big brothers' from the states would win in the end, I think...
Sill, if one like Thrice and BSF, this is a great alternative to check out, as these boys deliver a great musical effort with 'Portrait of Beauty'. Check the Homepage of the band and their purevolume page for hearing samples and songs. (Links supported in the band info)
3.0/3.5 (unbiased) - 4 (biased)/5