Review Summary: Attempting to stand out amongst a sea of female-fronted bands, Iwrestledabearonce’s endeavor is most likely nothing you haven’t heard before.3 of 7 thought this review was well written
A few days ago, I watched an old, live In Flames video, and during an interview, the bassist said “I think the best kind of music is simple music. Not to say that our music is simple, but it’s not that technical.” I agree with that. Back in the day, all a metalcore band needed was growling and clean vocals, two guitars, a bass, drums, and they were set. Recently, however, there has been a growing trend of bands experimenting with music by adding odd timing signatures, instruments normally absent in rock music (i.e. banjos, accordions, etc.), and who can blame them? Iwrestledabearonce is one of these bands, and they have come up with some ideas that might seem innovative and creative, but I just wish they stuck with the same formula of guitars, bass, vocals, and drums.
“It’s All Happening” is the band’s debut LP, and I can already tell it’s going to suck because I’ve read the band’s name. With a name like Iwrestledabearonce, It’s difficult to take the band’s music seriously. Their song titles remind me of The Devil Wears Prada, and after reading them, it is now impossible for me to take them seriously. It would be one thing if the songs titles actually referred to the lyrics in the songs, but this is not the case. Also like The Devil Wears Prada, the lyrics have nothing to do with the song titles, so not only are the titles just to make you laugh (or if you’re like me, they just make me scratch my head) but they turn the band into an even bigger farce. If the song “Tastes Like Kevin Bacon” was actually about a cannibal who ate someone who tasted like Kevin Bacon, I would appreciate it.
Instead, the lyrics are more reminiscent of poorly written poetry on LiveJournal.com. Each song has some lyrics vaguely referring to some other person (most likely a guy) who has wronged the author in some way, though I don’t care enough to discern why. I’m sure a fan of this band will respond to this explaining the subtle nuances of this band’s music, but you shouldn’t need a Philosophy degree to discern the real meaning behind an Iwrestledabearonce song. Also, with joke names such as “I’m Cold and there are Wolves After Me” and “The Cat’s Pajamas”, there probably isn’t any hidden meaning. A song could portray a vivid image of a young man's quest for salvation and meaning in a world that has forgotten him, but you'd never know that if the song was titled "I Drank My Diarrhea Yesterday."
Humor can be done well in music. Anthrax, Dethklok, and even Tim Lambesis’s project Austrian Death Machine have elements of humor in their songs that work well. It’s these random, failure attempts at comedy in “It’s All Happening” that take away from the album’s quality. Listening to this album is like watching the random moron in your group of friends make an ass of himself to get laughs, but everyone just stares at him awkwardly at his failed attempts at humor. HORSE the Band did it before them, and they did it a lot better.
As far as the instruments go, they are played competently. Most of the riffs are fast, technical, and heavy, and Cameron’s screams are just about what you’d expect from a Deathcore vocalist. The problem lies when the band switches from the heavy stuff to the lighter, electronic samplings. This happens often, and it’s mind-jarring. Also coupled with these interludes are instances of clean vocals, and while they are better than listening to the bloodcurdling screeches, but the clean vocals can get annoying at times. The electronics and sampling turn this band from another deathcore band to a ***in’ weird deathcore band, but I guess that’s their niche, or gimmick, rather.
The only song that really stood out to me was “Black Eyed Bush” as this track was devoid of the frantic deathcore blast beats and guitar riffs. It’s a mostly electronic song with samples and a fast paced, but simple drum beat with Cameron singing random notes in the background. It is nothing like the other songs on this album, and I actually found it quite enjoyable. From what I’ve read on other sites, most fans of this album skip this track, and they really shouldn’t. It’s a good change of pace from the screeching, and most of the tracks contain the elements of this song in one way or another.
Besides what I’ve said, there’s nothing else remarkable about this album. Except for “Black Eyed Bush,” there’s nothing special here. Every song sounds the same. It’s the same deathcore riffs, screaming, keyboard interludes and clean vocals, though I noticed her clean vocals have a stronger presence than the death growls, and there seems to be more instances of clean vocals. Basically, it’s a lame album, a lame, failed attempt at being weird, and it’s nothing we haven’t heard before from bands better at it. How this band got popular is beyond me, baffling me to the point of carving my eyes out with a melon spoon.
The problem is that no one knows what’s “good”, anymore. What’s popular and what’s critically successful don’t necessarily correlate with one another. “Twilight” is a terrible, poorly-written novel that has spawned equally horrible movies, and the series has made more money than you and I will ever make in our lifetime. Bands like Nickelback, Tokio Hotel, and Bring Me the Horizon play laughable, appallingly bad music, but still sell CDs and have live concerts, while amazing bands such as Lykathea Aflame continue to play in obscurity. The problem lies in choice. No one can be told to not like something. Many people choose to listen to an album or read a book and decide for themselves. That’s fine, but it means one has to buy the CD or book in order to discover this. To record labels, buying a CD and hating it translates into “buying a CD”, and they measure success by how many people buy their CDs. It’s an endless circle.
The future looks bright for Iwrestledabearonce, but I only hope they drop the same old tired joke they’re trying to tell and actually take themselves seriously on their next endeavor.