Review Summary: Earshot's debut album is an experiment that hits more often than it misses, but it still misses a lot in comparison to their newer material.
Earshot is often shrugged off as a forgettable nu-metal act (on sputnikmusic.com). Fortunately, the band is not as horrible as one might think, even though they play mainstream hard rock/metal. Their debut album, Letting Go, proved that they could potentially make it big, and they did - for a while. Earshot managed a few semi-successful singles from the album (Not Afraid and Get Away), but for some reason, they slowly faded from memory. This trend continued with their album Two when Earshot managed their break-through single, Wait, but once again slipped away into the shadows.
Straight from the get-go, Earshot seems to have an appetite for mood-ridden alternative-metal. Earshot does nothing to conceal this fact, as one only needs to look at Headstrong’s lyrics which ooze fear and anguish: “Strapped down and heavy. Tied up and bound. This weight I carry. This weight I found”. Headstrong creeps in with churning guitars that simulate the sound of a hideous, slithering creature. Not surprisingly, heavy guitar hooks and melodic (also creepy) vocals accompany the song - they are used as shock therapy (if you will). The album is by no means groundbreaking, but the constant aggression is key. In the same way, the desperate lyrics in “Get Away”, “how much must I live through just to get away” work well as a call to arms. The chorus of the song is memorable too, with Wil Martin (the lead singer) belting out octaves seamlessly.
Many bands are said to sound like Tool, but there is no question that in Letting Go, Earshot is possibly the most Tool-alike band you have ever heard. With this in mind, Earshot basically sounds like Tool in its earliest stage. If any song from this album was actually a B-side from Undertow, it would not be a surprise. In terms of experimentation Tool may be out of Earshot’s league, but Earshot give it their best shot. Experimentation is often found in verses, acting as gateways to choruses that would fit well on any radio station. Such is the case with the first four songs, which also happen to be the best songs. Wake Up is one of their more experimental songs with a trippy verse giving way to a bone-splitting chorus. Other unmistakably inspired songs include Get Away and My Time.
The one thing that keeps the album from being an average nu-metal/hard rock debut is Wil. Some say that he has an incredible vocal range, and others say that he pulls off a great live show – both are correct. Wil has the kind of a voice that stands out in a crowd: raspy, emotional, and powerful. Brooding is especially easy for him (evident in songs like Misery and Unfortunate). He also excels at astonishing the listener with his purposeful vocal onslaughts that are especially effective during choruses. Often, he will sing lithely in verses only to unleash his stabbing vocals when you least expect them. Wil’s attack leaves nothing to be desired for except for more of his vocals.
Earshot’s debut album is cramped with nu-metal despair and Tool-ish experimentation, but Earshot is a hard rock band at heart. This World, the only song solely written by the lead singer, is also the only straight-forward hard rock song on the album. “Wait a minute” (says the listener), “I thought Earshot was an experimental band, not some run-of-the-mill hard rock band”. This is the part where you have to listen to their newer material to understand. Although Earshot can be quite experimental, they are mostly good at making catchy rocking’ songs with monster choruses. With this understood, Letting Go can be an enjoyable album if you are looking for a good old hard rock/metal band with memorable choruses.
- Get Away
- Not Afraid
- Ordinary Girl
- Wake Up