Review Summary: Oh, Sleeper guitarist Shane Blay presents: “The Art of Squandering Talent and Writing Dreadful, Dreadful Songs.”
When Shane Blay initially announced he was going to release some solo material, it was pretty easy to get excited. To be honest, I’ve spent a lot of time defending Blay’s honor. As the guitarist of metalcore quintet Oh, Sleeper, I’ve always claimed that Blay’s shredtastic guitar and vocal work were the only saving grace of the generally average band. Even after the perplexingly atrocious Son of the Morning
, I still played the devil’s advocate and stood behind Blay’s shredding and yelping. With this in mind, it wasn’t difficult for me to imagine Shane Blay’s solo material being awesome - finally free from the grasps of his lazy band! Yet not too soon after his initial announcement, Blay began to pepper his Twitter accounts with strange studio updates. At first, Blay alluded that he was taking some serious cues from star John Mayer (which would be fine if Blay showed any promise as a singer-songwriter to begin with) but he later contradictorily announced that he was also (or instead?) taking a “nu-metal” direction. Which, obviously, led to a few questions. Excuse me, Mr. Blay? Are we talking Fred-Durst-covering-‘Heartbreak Warfare’-kinda-schtuff or do you plan on rewriting Slipknot’s discography in contemporary blues-pop style?
Well, Blay has gone ahead and released his music in the form of a 3-track EP called Anullaby
. Although it can’t be made certain if it’s “a-null-lullaby”, “anal-abby” or just a really bad band name that I’m thinking to death, I can definitely assure you that Anullaby
is (thankfully) neither John Mayer or nu-metal. Yeah, Anullaby
is definitely Blay’s worst work ever, mind you, but it is bad music in its own respective non-Mayer-y right! To categorize it most accurately, most of Anullaby
sounds like all the melodic parts in Son of the Morning
-era Oh, Sleeper. All the elements that Blay stole from Thrice on Son of the Morning
make their reprise both vocally and instrumentally on Anullaby
- and trust me, Blay’s plagiarized performance on Son of the Morning
was lackluster last year and it’s even less interesting the second time around. To be fair, the only redeeming quality of Anullaby
is Blay’s lone bluesy guitar solo, hidden in the superboring power-balled ‘Pandora’. The solo is Blay’s most impressive yet, as it uncovers an aspect of his guitarwork that hasn’t (and probably won’t ever) get the Oh, Sleeper spotlight. Unfortunately, the rest of Anullaby
is perhaps one of the most underdeveloped, repetitive and lazy EPs I’ve heard put to record (by an obviously talented artist, nonetheless). Each and every song, I kid you not, has the exact
same verse formula - programmed drums, dramatic piano arpeggios, distorted bass shots and Dustin Kensrue-vocals. It’s nigh impossible to differentiate the song’s verses from one another. The choruses manage to be worse yet. Opener ‘Morning Sickness’ tries to soar with its wordy and deliberately repetitive chorus hook (“You’re just another name in my book!
”) but the adrenaline rush of the chorus comes too soon and abruptly in the song and totally kills the buzz on the already unfortunate song. ‘Pandora’ and ‘Damage’ work in a similar fashion (to equally unsuccessful results). While they omit the adrenaline, the songs pair anticlimactic ‘dramatic’ choruses with terribly executed song structure to create a duo of songs that are marginally worse than the opener.
So, yes, Anullaby
is a bad EP with dreadful, dreadful
songs. Suffice to say, I can no longer justify defending Shane Blay anymore - especially not after Anullaby
made something painfully clear to me. The songwriting on Son of the Morning
(the same songwriting that appears on Anullaby
) probably sucks because of Blay himself - Blay has not been carrying the band on his capable shoulders, he’s been feeding them Thrice-isms and silly programming! And even if Son of the Morning
was a group effort in collective suckage, Anullably
Blay’s fault. The weakest link has been revealed. The lesson to be learned, Mr. Blay? Unless you’re Phil Collins or Casey Crescenzo, don’t bother with the solo material. You’ll be easier to defend if we can shift the blame to an entire band.