Review Summary: A Skylit Drive improve the slightest bit with Adelphia, releasing what is essentially a refined retread of their previous release.
A Skylit Drive burst onto the scene in 2007 with the release of their well-received EP titled She Watched The Sky. The band received less favorable reception for their 2008 LP Wires and the Concept of Breathing, a generic release that saw the band regress from their previously successful effort. The California post-hardcore outfit’s 2009 release, Adelphia, sees the band repeat what they did in 2008, releasing an average, mediocre at best record with repetitive, dragging song structure and an oft-poor vocal performance; the one exception being they do it all better this time around. A Skylit Drive actually put together a fairly solid musical release, as the instrumentation is tight, even enjoyable, and the introduction of a more synth-reliant sound works to the band’s advantage.
Adelphia starts with “Prelude To A Dream”, a bizarre and overtly generic track that epitomizes everything that is right and wrong with the album. It starts with a roaring breakdown, a solid one at that, only to be immediately marred by the band’s unspectacular harsh vocals and sub-par clean singing. However, the song goes on to showcase great drumming and excellent lead guitar, two areas the band has proven themselves to be sound in. The song is catchy, infectious even, and is a sign of good and bad things to come. “Heavens” is another track worth noting, as it is clearly displays everything this band can do well and poorly. Weak vocals hurt the song, only to be saved by great instrumentation and an epic moment beginning around the two minute mark. Those ninety seconds of near-musical perfection display a band with a good deal of potential, though they have thus far refused to harness it.
“Eva The Carrier” is the highlight of the album, as the clean vocals reach a tolerable level, and the chorus is really quite catchy. The song also uses keys and synthesizers a good deal, adding a pleasing atmospheric effect to the music. The following interlude “The World Ends In Whispers…Not Bangs”, is surprisingly memorable considering its purpose, as it displays a good amount of synth effects laden with a twirling guitar lead. The rest of the album has little or nothing to offer. Sure, some songs are worth mentioning. “The Boy Without A Demon” is mildly entertaining, and “Air The Enlightenment” is a respectable attempt at a ballad, but for the most part, the album is boring the rest of the way.
The real killer for Adelphia is the shrill delivery of recently castrated vocalist Michael Jagmin. While his vocals are markedly improved, they still fall in the poor to almost average range. His voice is so high in fact, that it actually detracts from the instrumentation around it. His voice seems to be the primary focus of the music, and if that is an intentional production measure, the band may want to change that fast. Jagmin’s voice destroys what would be otherwise solid songs, among them “The Children of Adelphia” “These Cannons Could Sink A Ship” and “I Swear This Place Is Haunted”. Jagmin’s performance aside, Adelphia is a sound release. Guitarist Joey Wilson is very competent with his instrument, showing his ability on many tracks, most notably “It’s Not Ironic, It’s Obvious”, “Heaven”, and “Running With The Light”. Drummer Cory LaQuay is also excellent, making extensive use of double-bass to great effect, as well as creating a dense atmospheric effect via his cymbals. His rhythms really add to the depth of the band’s improved sound, and help to counteract the incessant screeching of Jagmin, who has taken the "most feminine male vocalist" title from Alesana's Shawn Milke.
With Adelphia, A Skylit Drive progress a slight bit from Wires And The Concept Of Breathing, maturing as musicians and songwriters. Unfortunately, severe flaws in vocal performance coupled with irritating musical repetition drag the album down to be nothing more than average. You could say that A Skylit Drive is “almost there.”
Eva The Carrier
It's Not Ironic It's Obvious