Review Summary: I See Stars provides a little bit of breathing room for the Post-Hardcore community, and drops the bombshell with this tight debut album.
I See Stars is:
Devin Oliver - Clean Vocals
Chris Moore - Synth/Screams
Jeff Valentine - Bass
Jimmy Gregerson - Rhythm Guitar
Brent Allen - Lead Guitar
Andrew Oliver - Drums
When I first heard I See Stars, it was on a Rise Records sampler CD, where I never planned on finding any bands that would be interested in, at all. But, lately, the music industry as a whole has started signing bands that are making a name for themselves in some way. I subconciously placed I See Stars right next to Broadway, Of Mice & Men, Attack Attack!, Asking Alexandria, etc. as the rising stars of Hardcore. And rightfully so, because these guys delivered a memorable, fairly solid albums, with a few holes here and there, but as a whole, "3D" demonstrates plenty of strong points, but some definite room for improvement.
I See Stars' sound involves dual guitars working together to create typical post-hardcore harmonies, in Drop D, while the bass groove follows the outline of the guitar parts. Moore's synth is programmed with tons of techno-influenced beats and harmonies, and is extremely evident in parts of nearly every song. This is all capped off nicely with Andrew Oliver's steady beats and his brother Devin's high clean vocals leading the assault. I See Stars has a noticeably steady song structure to all of their songs, most noticeable by the title track "3D". The songs usually start with a very catchy intro, followed by a verse, chorus, second verse, second chorus, and then a breakdown where the synth usually stops and Chris Moore jumps out from behind the synth and belts out some exceptional high screams. One of the key things to I See Stars' sound, is that they aren't heavy all the time. They balance it well with catchy guitar hooks, and clean vocal lines by Devin, something that post-hardcore bands just don't seem to do anymore.
The lead single off the album "What This Means to Me" starts with a catchy synth line and works it's way into a memorable verse by Devin Oliver and a chorus that you are yet to hum to yourself minutes after listening to it. Moore's screams take this song by storm near the end, as it calmly soothes and rolls down to a nice calm techno-reminiscent ending.
I See Stars of course has the potential to go heavy, citing "The Big, Bad Wolf" and "Project Wakeup" as main examples. Moore's vocals rule both of these songs, and the breakdowns are not generic, but abnormally catchy, featuring great synth-work. But, as I mentioned before, I See Stars counter-balances the heavier with the softer. "Sing This!" and "I Am Jack's Smirking Revenge" offer more poppy elements and more electronics than the other songs (and more Autotune, might I add). The absolute standout track on this album is "The Common Hours", which will hold you with it's catchiness, and hard-hitting breakdown for days to come.
I See Stars is a solid band, and a good refresher for the post-hardcore community. Nothing amazing, or completely standout-ish. Let's be honest, we've heard electrocore before. We've been there, and we've done that. I See Stars just does it very well. And their debut effort earns a solid 3/5 in my book. Look out for these guys.