Marianas Trench
Masterpiece Theater


3.5
great

Review

by J. Ponton EMERITUS
December 26th, 2009 | 32 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The band hesitantly follows their predecessors and comes out with a great album.

”First it comes on quiet, creeping slow; clever words and phrases only stain…my masterpiece will fall apart; it was over before the start…entirely guilty by design.”

Such words can be found on the opener of Marianas Trenches’ sophomore album. Turning a blind eye to the band’s relationship aspect of their lyrics, one could probably take this as a self-referencing joke about the pop punk genre. Green Day took a more bombastic approach to this style of music on 2004’s American Idiot; My Chemical Romance followed suite in 2006 with The Black Parade; to a lesser extent, Sum 41 tried to join the ranks of these bands with 2007’s Underclass Hero. These albums contained many throwbacks to the classic rock greats of the 70s and 80s - as well as a certain variety in length and build of the album’s song structures. I guess you could call Masterpiece Theater the next attempt at a pop punk-type opera of an opus, and in some ways, it displays a band that rises above its predecessors.

Over the past year, this album has been making waves in Canada. The album’s three charting singles make a catchy run from track two to four. While Marianas Trenches’ musical ambitions are high for this album, they don’t exactly try to stretch things in the way of the lyrics. Josh Ramsay has a very passionate delivery when it comes to his vocals, and when he belts: ”Did you say please just follow me; I thought you wanted me, cause I want you all to myself,” You’re bound to be caught singing along with his hard to match tone. “Beside You” displays those classic rock influences mentioned above in the form of the over-the-top harmonies that compliment – well actually, more like drench – the chorus. This brings up an odd characteristic that should be mentioned about this album: initial listens to Masterpiece Theater will raise an eyebrow, offset some, and possibly cause revulsion in listeners; however, subsequent listens do bring enjoyment as the initial surprise of the harmonies and Josh’s vocals soon begin to settle into the area of the norm and familiar.

The second half of the album is a bit more ballad-driven. “Good To You” and “Lover Dearest” are syrupy in the way of intimate emotions and production values. The prior features a Top 40 pop approach in delivery and even carries a duet between the lead singer and Kate Voegele. Fortunately, these songs and the aforementioned “Beside You” are the only instances where the band tries to get too intimate; no offense to the boys, but I strongly believe their talents lie in the energetic jaunts as exampled by “All To Myself” and “Celebrity Status”. John is not meant to sing ballads; well, at least those that are written in this format.

So where American Idiot had “Jesus of Suburbia,” and The Black Parade had its title track, what exactly causes this album to be categorized with the work of those bands? The title track of Masterpiece Theater is divided into three parts and acts as the foundational backbone for the album. Part one creeps in with some foreboding strings and starts things off with a blatant set of Queen-styled harmonies from the boys. A picked guitar riff underlies Josh before a relatively hard pop punk riff sets the extremely catchy chorus into motion. As I already alluded to, this piece acts as an ironic statement in relation to the band’s genre, as well as an obvious relationship metaphor. The ending of part one switches things up and recalls Green Day’s random changes within song structures with a hard-hitting riff that comes out of nowhere but quickly settles down to be continued out in part two. The second part of the piece acts as an appropriate interlude for the album and repeats the antics of part one – albeit, in a more subtle way. Part three is a real treat. Digitalized rain drops play under the vocals, and as the melody picks up in intensity, a sweeping and driving set of strings sets the closer into motion. Part three acts as a reprise of all the tracks on the album; bits and pieces of the songs are mixed in with the catchy and cinematic part one as well. The album closes on a marching drum beat – ala The Black Parade – and John innocently ends on the ironic line: ”…I don’t know how it got this way.”

Marianas Trench takes a brave step with this sophomore album. Going the bombastic route can either cripple a band, or as has so far been the case, break the band in a more positive sense. Since the band has chosen not to go too far into a showman-type of pretense – overtly political lyrics, odd metaphors, and musical attempts that they just couldn’t have possibly done - it’s fair to say they fall into the latter category and succeed for the most part. The ballads here are a bit too syrupy however, and as a alluded to above, Josh’s vocals are an acquired taste. As far as a general appeal to listeners, that’s really all that hold’s this band back though. It will be interesting to see how the boys choose to follow up this pop punk opera; will they follow Green Day’s cue and try to recreate it again, or will they got the route of My Chemical Romance and attempt to return to their routes next time around? Only time will tell.



Recent reviews by this author
There Will Be Fireworks The Dark, Dark BrightBring Me the Horizon Sempiternal
As I Lay Dying AwakenedTim Hecker Harmony in Ultraviolet
Thousand Foot Krutch The End Is Where We BeginOwen I do perceive.
user ratings (120)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Ponton
Emeritus
December 26th 2009


5804 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I was really surprised with this album. If you are a fan of any of the albums that I recommended on the right, be sure to give this a shot.

CelestialDust
December 26th 2009


3155 Comments


Great review but it doesn't seem like I'd be too fond of this

Ponton
Emeritus
December 26th 2009


5804 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks, yeah it probably wouldn't be your thing.

I listened to this at the start of the year and didn't think much of it, but I picked it up again and liked what I found.

Romulus
December 26th 2009


8443 Comments


Only thing I know about Marianas Trench is that August Burns Red song, but this sounds like a fun listen. Very nice review as always.

Kronzo
December 26th 2009


993 Comments


Good review.

Fun fact: I added this album to the database :D

cirq
December 26th 2009


9264 Comments


Romgsom, its also the deepest place on earth

Riley12988
December 26th 2009


109 Comments


I think the singer's name is Josh, and I'm surprised you didn't mention his over-the-top vocal range. Vocals were a hit with me from the end of track 1, though I can see how the eccentricity and force might be an acquired taste.

Track 4 should have been in the Lion King

Romulus
December 26th 2009


8443 Comments


Oh that makes sense then, thank you cirq

cirq
December 26th 2009


9264 Comments


Anything I can do to help

Ponton
Emeritus
December 26th 2009


5804 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I think the singer's name is Josh, and I'm surprised you didn't mention his over-the-top vocal range.


You're correct; I guess I misread my info. He definitely has a crazy range and though I didn't mention that, I did say his tone is hard to match. I think he has a unique sound.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
December 26th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hmmm... Yeah, you have me interested Greg. Very good & detailed review too... So I/we know what to expect. It does sound like an album that many will cast off on first listen, so your warning/info/opinion helps in that regard.

Pos.

Ponton
Emeritus
December 26th 2009


5804 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks. Its gotten great reviews from the places I have read, and like I said, it's pretty big in Canada.

I actually thought a little bit about The Blackout when I heard this so I thought you might enjoy it.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
December 26th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Righteo, that's not the vibe I got since I do not link The Blackout to 'AIdiot', 'Black Parade', etc... Now you just have me intrigued.

Ponton
Emeritus
December 26th 2009


5804 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I linked this to those albums because of the concept and layout of the album; as far as general sound goes, The Blackout came to mind for some reason. In all fairness, I haven't listened a lot to that band though so I could be off.

DinoX
November 13th 2010


3582 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Band doesn't get enough attention on sputnik, except for the masterpiece theaters this album rules. Vocalist is amazing.

MrSnuffles
November 13th 2010


112 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

^I agree with this.

rockobsesse
December 20th 2010


8 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nicely written review, but you kept calling Josh Ramsay, John! that's quite a critical error :P and they're a pop-rock band, not pop-punk. there's a big difference between any genre of rock. and lover dearest isn't necessarily a ballad if you count that fact that it was written about his past heroin addiction. i'd disagree with the fact that Josh shouldn't sing ballads. a voice with that incredible range and vocal acrobatics should definitely be singing ballads whereas in my case, i am not fond of their catchy pop-rock songs, due to them being oversaturated with cheesiness. but all in all, i agree with your score of 3.5 and the masterpieces on this album are simply, masterpieces. my favourite being Masterpiece II, which when i first heard it, i couldn't stop myself from sobbing like crazy. that's what beautiful and emotional music can do to you. i saw them live just two days ago and they put on an amazing show! especially Josh's vocals, they shine and stick out above anything else. too bad the crowd was full of stupid LG's, you gotta hate them :P

faithleader
May 10th 2011


2 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Josh really have a powerful voice.

This album is very good and thought out ... with a theatrical theme. Solid album with great pop and ballad songs!

5/5

demigod!
June 5th 2011


44727 Comments


are these guys only huge in ontario or something?

Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

JaySeanFenris
August 31st 2011


140 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This album is so so good. The only pop-rock record I could ever rate so highly.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy