Very rarely does a band make a drastic and startling change in their musical endeavors and not get destroyed by hordes of annoyed and dismayed fans and critics. Attempts by bands like Nightwish (the firing of Tarja), The Mars Volta, and Destroy the Runner have resulted in a loss of the majority of their major fan base. Thus only retaining hardcore fans, and gaining a small unique few that embrace the change. Another band that has attempted a extreme change to their musical style, to the disgust of many, but the delight of a few, like myself, is Grand Rapids, Michigan based Still Remains.
After the release of their first full length, the highly regarded (in the metalcore world) Of Love and Lunacy, Still Remains shocked fans with the drastic changes that were implemented in songs such as Wax Walls of an Empty Room and Stay Captive. Gone for the most part were the crushing breakdowns, limited clean vocals and overall intensity that made Still Remains a growing force in the metalcore scene. In their place was a heightened focus on melody and a great reduction in intensity and harshness. Fans and critics alike took offense to this change and the band lost the majority of their supporters (which may have led to the breakup) except for a slight minority including yours truly.
The Serpent starts off with an intro. Typical right? Wrong, instead of your normal eerie voiceover/quote/musical introduction that starts you into a intense metal experience, the listener is greeted with a keyboard laden upbeat poppy introduction. Fans of Of Love and Lunacy will be checking their cd players or computer, making sure they actually bought a Still Remains cd instead of a Nightwish one. This intro gives the listener a good idea of what is to come.
As The Serpent fades into the opening measures of Wax Walls of an Empty Room, the genius of this album becomes apparent. Still Remains has distanced themselves from the metalcore masses and created a hybrid mix of metal and pop. Songs like Stay Captive and Sleepless Nights Alone are keyboard driven songs that feature no harsh vocals at all. As the keyboards float from the background to the forefront of the mix, the guitarists lay down an effective rhythm, while also showing the ability to break out in a melodic solo (Anemia In Your Sheets) or catchy lead lick (Avalanche). The drumming is one of the highlights of The Serpent. Double bass rhythms that catch your ear, and tasteful, but not over the top drum fills are scattered throughout every song. The vocals are another feature that makes this album a classic in my mind. Effective use of clean and harsh vocals, both implemented in a way that fits each song. Catchy chorus' and intense verses are a major part of The Serpent. Dancing With the Enemy boasts a clean chorus, with a bouncing synth line going on in the background. This is also one of the few metal albums in which the bass is actually audible in parts.
Overall I feel this album is deserving of the classic status. Previous listeners of Still Remains need to rip the scales from their eyes and see the creative evolution of the band. The quality of musicianship and the overall quality of this album makes this one of the best metalcore releases ever.
Uh, how did Still Remains "distance" themselves from the metalcore masses by going poppier? I can think of many MANY bands that have done exactly that (Atreyu, Eighteen Visions, Destroy the Runner, All That Remains, It Dies Today, Vanna to name just a few). This album is exactly what every other post-hardcore slash metalcore band has done these days. They went poppier to sell records. These guys didn't even really do it all that well. The choruses are blah, the melodies aren't anything special or creative, and it's just another post post hardcore band that blends in with the masses. How on earth did you give this album a 5? I'm not saying this album is crap, it's just OK. There is nothing great about it though. It's already been done over and over.
I see that you have a lot of metalcore in your top albums. I hope you realize that albums by such bands are just watered down versions of great albums that came by better bands before.
There was a time I liked metalcore too, for like 8 months or so...but then I realized that these bands are just gateways to better bands and better music. It's just a phase before you move on to better metal.
The capacity of human intelligence seems to limit the capabilities to expand upon any possible creative aptitudes. Indeed, if one cannot even notice the facets that the ingenuities around him are comprised of, how can he be expected to fashion a beast of his own? This inveterate sense of constraint is a great blow to the veracity of mankind’s abilities. It restrains us and holds our minds to the ground below, averting any possibility of rising above ourselves to something greater; something not fathomed by the conventional mind. This concept of seeking to go beyond one’s self, known as “transcendence”, is essentially a gateway to unlocking pieces of ourselves that can lead to some of the most elaborate and significant creations of our world. For many, this quest to transcend and form creations that were once considered unthinkable and overwhelming consumes life. Certainly it is rare to find such people, but when they are found, creative barriers are destroyed.