Review Summary: A Skylit Drive might have a sound thats relevant to a 14 year old pop-punk girl or I might be a 14 year old pop-punk girl... Maybe we all need to check ourselves.T
he invasion of various post-hardcore and harder pop-punk bands are like a plague riddled through the latest trendy music magazines and myspace. Everyone’s heard them and mostly everyone hates them (with good reasoning). The next big thing in music for a few years now has come with bands that do a lot of catchy melodic singing and some crushing screaming (enough to be deemed hard by tight pants dwellers). While A Skylit Drive fits all of the above I feel like many of them won’t give them a chance they deserve. It might be debate-able that they deserve a listen
but for someone who listens to really hard stuff like Suicide Silence and Zao I can still find some respectable deeds done within “Wires and the Concept of Breathing”. Another selling point to this review is the fact that many of my friends who despise music like this and would see a picture of these guys would probably puke and never give them a shot but because they didn’t see how girly they were and listened they went unbiased. Returning fans of the first EP will be right at home even with new vocalist “Jag”. “Wires and the Concept of Breathing” feels like a continuation of the first EP “She Watched the Sky”.
Wires and the Concept of Breathing
The album starts off with a short instrumental track as did the first EP did. It’s mainly a transition to the first real song and creates a little atmosphere that’s calm before the storm. Guitars go blazing and “Knights of the Round” introduce the brash screaming vocals with a kick of adrenaline. Jag than will harmonize over preparing for the first verse which will be shocking to many. Shocking because- if you aren’t mistaken the vocals are extremely high pitch and sound like a girl.
We’re talking about as high as Claudio from Coheed & Cambria. The vocals are going to be the selling point of this band for many. In this song the singing is very melodic and catchy. The instrumentals behind the voices are accommodating with varied riffing and occasional pinched harmonics that make it seem that the music was built around the vocals (and it is?). The song with force makes the listener almost want to imitate the singing and with lyrics that are noticeable, easy, and catchy there won’t be any problems. “Wires (And the Concept of Breathing) keeps the tempo up and follows the same formulas as “Knights of the Round”. If the high pitched singing isn’t wearing on you now then you’ve probably found an enjoyable listen. The way he holds out his notes can be particularly annoying in this featured song but the chorus and screaming vocals back up the song nicely. If your one for those subliminal “I want you on my side, but you don’t love me” style lyrics then you’ll be right at home. A closer look at the band reveals more cliché sides of the instruments. The little lead licks aren’t that advanced but more oriented to be listener friendly and to blend in with the background. The double bass comes in predictable spots but sounds decent. Overall production of the album sounds nice but is shoddy in spots.
“City on the Edge of Forever” starts off with delay and reverb’ed palm muted lead licks. The song is slower than the previous and has a much softer pop-punk vibe to it. The vocals are way more melodic than fierce and the chorus carries the song. It’s catchy and climaxing every time it hits with the crashing drums and synths that help it have a “rising” feeling to it. The vocals pack an emotional punch to it without being too cheesy. “Eris and Dysnomia” is song that retorts back to the old post-hardcore formula. It’s got the works of double bass and JUNs. The screaming vocals seem to remind me that this is a myspace fueled band with the corniest of layering especially in this song. Sometimes it sounds very strong and used effectively; other times sloppy.”I’m not a Thief, I’m A Treasure Hunter” has a very Underoath – They’re Only Chasing Safety feel to it. The way the song is constructed it is also one of my favorites on this album. The singing is catchy, the screaming sounds good, and all instruments are audible. Yes, even the bass you can hear during the chorus sliding up and down and doing little add-ons. The song has a feeling of structure which tastes a rising action, climax, and fall out. The fall out will leave you wanting more. ..
..And unfournately “My Disease” doesn’t really deliver. It slows down the action and goes a more experimental road. If your music deaf, and couldn’t actually hear the bass in the other tracks than you will hear it now as it’s almost JAZZY. It’s got a real swing feel to it and then the chorus unloads kicking drums and power singing which really doesn’t appeal to me. I feel like it could have been much more polished instead of ultimately so girly sounding but I’m sure to each to their own. As I know the direction is for an emotional ballad, it comes up feeling not so well executed. The vocals needed better coaching in order to really get the grip. The lyrics seemed heartfelt but the delivery was sloppy. I’m hoping that a young band like this can learn from these silly mistakes. I mean anyone who listened to this song wouldn’t feel emotionally touched through the singing I feel like. From this point on, if you’re a fan of not changing sound then you will be happy. More poppy-punk songs filter through the last half of this album. “This Isn’t the End” really sounds like a Miley Cyrus song. I don’t really know what to say but the song writing went off the deep end and became so predictable and unbearable. This song should have never been included on the final copy of the album. “Sleepwalker” is interesting and weird. Interesting because Jag the vocalist really can sound eerie and deep sounding with the right effects which is basically the whole song. Weird because the whole song is just a transition of him singing slowly and it being very long and drawn out. Good thing that it’s only a minute!
“Pursuit Lets Wisdom Ride the Wind” leaves the taste of “I’m not a Thief”… with some southern rock riffing. It’s got a very upbeat feel and a carefully crafted chorus. The synth’s are actually audible and add something to the music during the verses. The interlude of this song is awesome. It’s slow and building and I love how drowny the vocals sound whirling around. This is one of the highlights of the album for me where he sings “all the faces that say they love me” and repeats. Kind of hard to explain but it can take the air out of you if you can relate. “Ex-Machina” is a song that tastes great. Call it a fresh breathe of air but it truly astounds me how a band can pull off songs like this.
It sounds really like no other song on the album, the lyrics have a concept which is creative, and the instrumentals pull out things that the listener hasn’t experienced before. The use of the legato lick and the drums going on an off-beat during the chorus are remember able. It’s a song like this that fills me up with hope that this band will be able to push out over the edge. “Balance” follows the same exact footsteps with a bouncy bass line and once again makes you wonder where the last 3 songs came from. It’s ultimately what makes this album a good one from being a mediocre average one. The vocals are spot on and not too girly sounding out of all of a sudden and sound like a controlling high pitch singer instead of the a sloppy one.
“All it takes For Your Dreams to Come True” is the last song off of the album and one of the many singles. It’s a good example of if you’re going to like or dislike this band since its borderline with the singing and song writing. The song signs off the listener on a good note of mostly hope that the band can correct its flaws and not go in the direction of sour…
Knights Of The Round
A Skylit Drive might not have the uniqueness of a Coheed and Cambria, the sheer atmospheric sound of Underoath, or the brutality of a Norma Jean but they do what they do well which is sing, write catchy music, and scream when they want. The vocalists have a lot of great double tracked harmonies and some not so great. The drummer overuses double bass but at adds a lot of clever fills. The guitarists are really just adequate in this genre. If you're looking for a sequel to old school From First To Last you'll probably make love to this.
The major flaws of this band aren’t really necessary but seem more sloppy than anything. It’s a harsh entry with some shiny spots into the whole myspace fueled post-hardcore influx but it doesn’t really leave you with audio acid reflux either...
+ Unique vocal delivery
+ Instrumentals within the genre
+ Replay ability
-Unique vocal delivery
-Questionable production cues
-Mostly un-enticing song structures
Original Release Date: May 20, 2008
Label: Fearless Records
A Skylit Drive is:
Michael "Jag" Jagmin - Vocals
Nick Miller - Guitar
Joey Wilson - Guitar
Brian White - Bass / Screams
Kyle Simmons - Keyboards
Cory La Quay - Drums / Vocals