Review Summary: While Dreamer will keep fanboys more than content, it does little to improve on Haste the Day's rather generic formula of the past.Haste the Day
Metalcore (Christian metalcore in particular) has been a guilty pleasure of mine for quite some time now. Individual songs can be excellent, but spinning through an entire CD can be arduous. With the rise in popularity of the breakdown came a significant drop in the quality of the instrumentals overall, and the mainstream population keeps it that way. The music all sounds generic and the same because it sells, and with the addition of some radio friendly choruses, those yet to scrape the surface of the more experimental forms of metal and hardcore are more than satisfied jumping around and banging their heads to some mediocre at best record. This isn’t to assume that all metalcore is bland, as anomalies such as Converge and Between the Buried and Me have done the genre plenty of justice in the past by fiddling around with different characteristics not often displayed in metalcore. Haste the Day is not one of the few anomalies. They hopped on the metalcore train just as it was picking up steam, and fronted by the ludicrously energetic and emotional Jimmy Ryan, they reached popularity and mainstream status rather quickly. Nothing stands out about them instrumentally though, and with one year under new vocalist Stephen Keech’s belt, many hoped their 2008 release Dreamer would be their best yet. It’s good, and at times great, but it is still plagued by lackluster instrumentals and overall monotony.
The lack of anything different from previous records on Dreamer
is thoroughly disappointing. The guitar riffs are melodic but simplistic as they always have been, and similar to every Haste the Day recording since Burning Bridges
, there are a few breakdowns, but not an excess of them. I’ll throw out my honest opinion and say that the short break near the end of 68
is pretty sweet, as well as a few more scattered throughout the disc. Invoke Reform
may sport a Guinness World Records candidate for shortest guitar solo, and to my dismay, the band really didn’t try to incorporate solos into their music this time around. Devin Chaulk’s drumming is possibly tighter than ever, and his fills are smooth and frequent, but they often are and/or sound recycled many times over the course of a song. Lastly, while one may absolutely love a song while listening to it, the moment it is over, it’s in the past. There are rarely moments that will get cemented in your head and will warrant a tap of the rewind button, unless of course you’re a die hard fanboy of the band or genre. Nothing is going to stop you from doing so under those circumstances.
Essentially, for many of the positives on this album, there are apparent flaws. A few manage to squeak away before Haste the Day blow them over as well, namely the vocals and the five or six standout tracks. Stephen Keech employs a much more, say, demonic scream, for lack of a better word. It adds a reasonable amount of emotion to the music, and all of the choruses are sung rather well by the rest of the band. The vocals are possibly the highlight, as they at least supply Dreamer
with catchy entertainment value. I find the decision to place three calmer tracks (particularly the re-recording of the acoustic track Autumn
) at the end of the album a rather good one, as they provide an excellent contrast to the brutality of the first three. Tossing them sporadically throughout the album, and again ending with Autumn
, might have worked a bit better though, chopping down on some of the tedium of this album.
It is hard to give Dreamer
a great score. The slight progression Haste the Day made is so minimal it doesn’t make a difference, and this album is so drenched in sameness it’ll be a good month before I can recognize each track by ear. There are about five tracks that are certainly keepers though, and nothing will make one’s ears bleed. For what it is, a metalcore album, Dreamer
is satisfying, but it’s about time they shifted up their style.
Justin’s Top Three:
Sons of the Fallen Nation