Review Summary: The metalcore band’s sophomore release is better than their first, but not by much.
I’d be very willing to bet that most music fans haven’t heard of the band Inhale Exhale. Somewhat sad to say, that’s for a very good reason. Their previous debut, The Lost, The Sick, The Sacred
, did nothing to distinguish them from the hundreds (maybe even thousands) of similar metalcore acts that have flooded the market in the last five years or so. The band promised that their next album would “darker, heavier” and even a little “progressive”. Personally, I hoped that the band might take some risks and progress from the last album. So, has the band progressed? Or are they still stuck in the mud of mediocrity?
Actually, the answer to both
questions is a yes. There is a bit of improvement, but I Swear
is still a metalcore album. The sad part is, besides noticeable improvement in John Larussa’s guitar playing ability and the appearance of singing from vocalist Ryland Raus, it’s extremely similar to their previous album. Every verse is screamed and most of the choruses are sung. Since both their previous drummer (who sang) and bassist left, vocalist Ryland Raus is left to handle vocal duties on his own – and he does a pretty good job. His scream has improved slightly, and Raus’ clean vocals are more than adequate. In fact, I’d go so far to say his clean vocals are somewhat unique – at the very least, they’re pretty good. Inhale Exhale’s new rhythm section is still painfully average, and I need not elaborate on their abilities or contribution to the album, because it’s like pretty much anything you’d find anywhere else.
As mentioned before, guitarist John Larussa has definitely progressed the most. This is made apparent less than a minute into the opener, as he delivers some fairly technical shredding and a load of spectacular riffs. Fast forward to the intro of the second song, and it’s even better. Although I’m unsure as to whether or not the part in question is simply tapping, if it isn’t, then it’s pretty clear that Larussa has now become a more than adequate guitarist. Despite the fact that there are still no solos here, I’d be willing to bet that they could show up on the next album.
Has anything else changed? Well, the songwriting is just a little more fresh than before. Despite following the same screamed verse, sung chorus formula, the songs don't feel so constricted to said blueprint and therefore the music is a bit more "loose" than before. Several of the breakdowns aren’t one-note either – they have some pretty good riffs in them.
It’s kind of funny (or perhaps sad) that the best song on the album is the ballad, but it is. Knowledge = Priceless
begins with some pretty fingerpicking and features some intensely emotional singing from Ryland. The chorus is great, and so is the interlude. This ends the album on a high note, mellowing out after pummeling the listener for 40 minutes.
So in the end, how good is I Swear
? It’s still forgettable, but not as forgettable as The Lost, The Sick, The Sacred
. The band has yet to go out of their comfort zone or tread new territory; however they are certainly showing progress. You still would do good to pass on anything from Inhale Exhale, but they could very well make a great album the next time.
I Needed a Space Ship (Instead I Got Problems)
It's Myself Vs. Being a Man
Is the Fact That I'm Trying to Do it, Doing it For You
Knowledge = Priceless