Review Summary: Pillar has finally run out of gas. Maybe it’s because they’ve been running on the same brand for most of their career.
Endurance. Perseverance. Determination. Diligence. These are the traits and qualities needed for an athlete to succeed at their sport. As time wears on, anyone should naturally get better at whatever they play, whether it is a sport or an instrument. After 10 years, five albums, and countless national tours, Pillar’s latest album title makes it clear they love being a band. Unfortunately, it also marks a point when they should probably throw in the towel and retire.
After a continuous downward trend that seems to plague half the bands to ever exist, Pillar has finally hit a rut. Their simple hard rock formula has changed little after abandoning the rap-rock/nu-metal of Fireproof, and it finally shows. For the Love of the Game
seems to recycle itself, and at various points demonstrates a lack of songwriting ideas.
First of all, there’s the instrumentation. While never spectacular, it worked for the simple formula that Pillar used previously. Now, the mediocre drum parts and unimpressive guitar work don’t hold up anymore. The riffs are often stale or not interesting, sounding as if they were simply put there to fill out the album. Rob Beckeley’s singing voice has suffered with age, although not in a very detracting manner. His screams are quite lacking, however, making it all too clear that he’s been touring for many years. They have now become extremely weak shrieks, and quite often could have been left on the cutting room floor.
The production has also taken a turn for the worse. Although bassist Kalel’s contribution is heard much better than before, the guitars sound rough and gritty – and not in a good way.
However, the biggest problem is the obvious fact that the band has run out of songwriting ideas (both musically and lyrically). “Turn it Up” is the perfect example of this. Apparently Beckeley decided it was a great idea to stick as many song and album titles into a verse. (Project 86’s Drawing Black Lines
and Underoath’s Define the Great Line
are each referenced by name.) The chorus is even worse, sporting party anthem lyrics:
“Turn it up/Throw your hands in the air
All the people everywhere
Let me hear you say
Woah, oh, oh, woah, oh, oh”
The group chants at the end are forced, thrown into the chorus that single-handedly ruins “Turn it Up”. A female vocalist is featured on “I Fade Away”, however that song is ruined by its bridge, where the bass and drums drown out whatever clean guitar part might be underneath. Perhaps the most obvious sign of laziness is the number of tracks - a lackluster 10, instead of the 12 that have made up previous efforts.
It’s been six years since Pillar has matured musically, and it’s about time to do so. The simple and cliché song structures, lyrics that are mediocre at best, and points that literally make you cringe - all gaping holes in an album that reeks of old age. Pillar clearly love what they do, and they’ve been successful since the beginning. But For the Love of the Game
marks a point to retire, or get back in shape very quickly.
Download if you must:
For the Love of the Game