Review Summary: Embrace the End improve.
To be completely honest, I hated Embrace the End’s debut LP “Counting Hallways To The Left”. My main problem with it, aside from the extremely boring tracks and the monotony, was the fact that the band had two vocalists. Normally I enjoy this, like when Bands like SiKth utilize the duel vocalist system well. Embrace the End’s first vocalist did high screams, mid-range yells, and a death growl or two. Their second vocalist only had mid-range yells, and they were worse than the other vocalist’s yells. Basically, the second vocalist was a huge waste of space. I thought the band would be better, and much easier on the ears, with just the one. My prayers were answered, to an extent. Not only was the worse vocalist leaving, but the talented vocalist was leaving as well. I was confused, I was saddened, but mostly I was curious. What would Embrace the End release? Would they find two new vocalists? Could they finally stop sucking?
I was extremely skeptical coming into this album, and I honestly expected it to be really bad. I went to the bands myspace to listen to a test track (I had heard Denim on Denim Hate Crime was a good track) and wasn’t sure what to think of it. Sure, it was better, but the vocalist’s yells sounded exactly the same as the previous duo of vocalists. Along with that, the lyrics sounded really immature. “And I'll break everything in this room just to prove I
still care/Well if that isn't love…/I'll be dead by the morning/Color me ***ty for you” Despite the faults, the song grew on me because of its improved technicality. I still had really low expectations for this album.
But *** that.
Embrace the End doesn’t suck any more. Embrace the End released Ley Lines on April 15th, revitalized with a new sound, a new (singular) vocalist, and a new attitude and direction towards song writing. Gone were the long, extended passages of yelled “poetry”. The monotony and blandness was traded in for complexity and uniqueness. I mean, Embrace the End doesn’t reinvent anything with this album, but it’s an extremely solid metalcore album.
The standout tracks on this are Cop in a Cage, Denim On Denim Hate Crime, Intensity In Ten Cities, and Pity And The Road To Bimini. Unfortunately, 3 of those are the first 3 tracks, so the album feels very frontloaded and tends to drag towards the end. The earlier portions of the album are the most memorable, like the dissonant, screeching riff about 2:00 in to Cop in a Cage, and the closing breakdown of Intensity In Ten Cities. Memorable moments are harder to find in the latter half, but the tracks located there are still solid, like Pity And The Road to Bimini. The track slowly builds in an attempt to be an epic, and succeeds. It doesn’t drag and the payoff doesn’t disappoint. The rest of the tracks just aren’t as interesting.
That’s one of the biggest problems with this album. It’s not all that memorable. It’s good, and it’s worthy of a few listens, but there isn’t much here to make you fall in love with this album. The album is consistently well constructed, but the individual songs aren’t anything remotely special, save a few parts. Also, some songs seem to meld together. There is a riff 3:25 into Intensity In Ten Cities that sounds eerily similar to the riff :20 into Ride It Like You Stole It. It’s not a copy, and it’s pretty easily distinguishable as such, but the similarity is one thing that drags the album down. The songs are all pretty similar. They mix well, they all sound good, but they don’t do much to set themselves apart.
The main weakness of the album is the vocals. I simply can’t stand the vocalist’s mid range yell. His highs are fine, and his lows are a nice change of pace, but his mids sound… pathetic, in a way. The yells sound really immature, but they don’t detract from the album all that much. The vocals may turn away those who are less interested in the instruments and more into the vocals.
Of course, it’s not all bad. The guitar work in this album is very good. It’s technical, complex, and extremely dissonant. Embrace The End is not afraid to throw around m2s (minor seconds). They even throw in some tri-tones. The guitarists do a good job of staying together, and the dual guitar work is great. The guitars don’t just stay on the low C string, they don’t overuse breakdowns, and the solos are actually really good. Every once in a while an acoustic or clean guitar riff will come in and switch things up. The leads on this album are absolutely the bright spot as the guitars turn, twist, dive, and scream around each other, creating incredible levels of dissonance. The bass can be heard every once in a while, mainly if you listen for it, but it’s always in the backdrop and doesn’t really get a chance to shine. The drums on the album are good. The drummer will throw in a good fill or two every once in a while, and the double bass work sounds great. The drummer isn’t doing anything too fantastic, but he does his job for sure.
Ley Lines was a great surprise considering what a disaster Counting Hallways to the Left was, but it’s still missing something. The songs are all solid, but they don’t stand out on their own and aren’t something that you would particularly have to
listen to again. The album drags a bit, despite its short playing time. The vocals are mediocre, at best, but all of these things can’t stop Ley Lines from being a really solid album. It’s just a little too similar.
Technical and complex
Great guitar work
Dissonant and compelling leads
Breakdowns used with discretion
Album drags a bit
Some recycled riffs
Vocals are lacking
Not particularly memorable