Review Summary: Although disappointing to fans expecting more of the "Wires...and the Concept of Breathing" formula, A Skylit Drive puts out a decent attempt at a sophomore record.
Both loved and hated, A Skylit Drive is a successful band in the commercialized genre of Post-Hardcore. Bringing nothing new to the table, they rely on catchy hooks and choruses sung by their falsetto singer, Jag, to make their sound work....that was pre "Adelphia". In their latest release, ASD tries to further that previously successful sound by adding more synth, and more clean vocal parts to let Jag's vocals soar. They've kept a basic formula of clean vocals, semi-breakdowns, screams, and melody, but does it really fit them?
If you go by the first track "Prelude of A Dream", the answer is quite simply yes. Now granted a lot of people would still hate them but overall their sound would have seemed to improve from "Wires.....". The opening haunting vocals transitioning into a pseudo- scream of "Stand up this is a f****** ovation!" really sets the album off on a good note. Although, the lead guitar part does play a few off-beat slide notes that are awkward and out of place. The song continues on with what really is the main focus on this album, and that is Jag's vocals. Now Jag is a falsetto singer, and sometimes being that high pitched, he can sound whiny. He hits very nice notes, but instead of holding those notes and riding them out (which would fit the sound quite well) he tries to make them even higher, which gives him the whiny sound. With that said, he can also sing very well without trying too hard. The opening minute and chorus of the single off of the album, " Those Cannons Could Sink A Ship" really show the potential of his voice.
It's not just his voice that has changed a bit since "Wires....", they have also added a few things, that if used in moderation, would have really enhanced this album. The problem though, is that it wasn't used in moderation and in fact was used to try and cover up the lack of creativity. For example, ASD decided to incorporate more synth into their sound. On the outside, you would think this would be a good idea, but in reality the synth was used to drive the guitar parts. What I mean is that they basically relied too much on synth to cover up basic octave notes and power chords. When used minimally in a song, such as in the best track on the album "the Children of Adelphia", the synth adds a very cool and refreshing dimension. And its not just synth that ASD relies too heavy upon on this album, going back to the vocals they also try to harmonize Jag's already high pitched voice with another track of Jag singing slightly lower. This does absolutely nothing for the song and actually takes away from his voice.
Now this album isn't all bad, some parts really show potential. Remove the whininess from "the Boy Without A Demon" and you have yourself a very solid sound. The guitar parts in the opening track, and in songs like "Thank God It's Cloudy Cause I'm Allergic to Sunlight" and "the Children of Adelphia" still show a lot of creativity. The screams, the few that appear, sound better on this album then they did on their debut album. When used to back Jag's vocals, the screams of the bassist and drummer really add depth and intensity to the songs. But for some reason, ASD decided to reduce the appearance of screams to minimal.
All in all, this album isn't terrible, nor is it great by any means. This is an average album that shows some promise of future improvements, but also shows persisting problems of mediocracy.
Some good vocal parts
Some creative riffs
Too much synth
Over harmonized/whiny vocals
Not enough screams
Prelude To A Dream
the Children of Adelphia