Review Summary: I See Stars deliver a good debut effort while sticking to the usual formula.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
I See Stars, a group of 6 teenagers hailing from Warren, Michigan came together to release their debut album 3-D with label Sumerian. ISS have been around since 2006, giving them plenty of time to develop some basic idea on how they want to sound as a band, their debut effort is the new-wave of electronic-riddled post-hardcore. It isn't anything new but ISS have managed to create a feel-good, fun record that also packs a punch demonstrating potential at the same time.
The vocalists of ISS are Devin Oliver and Zach Johnson, both deliver a set standard that is never really pushed anymore than they feel necessary. Devin, who provides the cleans, sings in pretty much one octave, never straying too far from it, his an average vocalist at best. All his vocals have been auto-tuned, making him at times, sound Attack! Attack!-esque from the SCS era, casting doubt on whether he has the capability to sing or if it's just for pure sound/effect reasons. Furthermore, as minor as it is, it does sound like a young teenager is singing to you, which at times is a little odd and annoying.
However his vocals do offer a nice amount of enjoyability to 3-D and to the entire 'feel good' factor and he carries each song well, delivering the pop-core feel.
The screaming is similar to the singing in terms of standard, Zach isn't the best screamer compared to many others in the genre yet he does his job, and he does it well. Zach's screams offer a contrast to Devin's singing rather than just mixing together into one vocal mould, having two vocalists in ISS case is beneficial. The screams add a kick to the music, at times improving a song in its entirety. The only real negatives about the screaming is it sounds quite 'throaty' and strained, at points even, they sound weak, it doesn't really cause a problem for the listener but it dampens the emphasis of having a screamer.
Muscianship(including lyrical ability):
Musically, 3-D is diverse in the sense that it never really gets boring and continues to sound fresh, it offers you a broad range of electronica to the typical breakdowns. No two songs really sound the same either, each differentiated with a stand-out electronic breakdown accompanied with vocals or a heavy section that assaults the senses; with ISS the heavy comes quick and fast, allowing you to enjoy them. 3-D suffers from the over-abundunce of the typical 'chug-chug' along side the over-saturation of electronica/synth, it may be a key part of ISS sound but it would be nice to see them experiment here and there, especially with the song structure, each song follows a specific pattern of sing/scream/electronic breakdown/chug-chug, you get the picture. Instrument wise, 3-D is average, the guitarists are standard, nothing out of the ordinary, the bass is barely audible, the drums offer blast-beats and they switch up the pace nicely; everything takes second place to the electronics and it shows, the instrumentation could be better. Lyrically 3-D is about teenage problems such as heart-break, love coupled along side obsession and murder. ISS aren't lyrical genius' but they can compose/put together catchy songs even if at times they feel rather 'manafactured'.
3-D sounds like a 16 year old rave, it isn't a bad thing but it can become tedious. ISS establishes 3-D's sound early on and refuses to expand or dares to add something a little extra. 3-D is your typical electronicore/post-hardcore effort, it's everything you would expect from a young band in the modern age of music. 3-D has a young feel about it, rarely treading into a more mature sounding territory. Everything sounds clean and crisp, the production is top-notch, sometimes a little much but overall 3-D sounds pretty good.
Overall I See Stars debut effort, 3-D is very enjoyable but that's all it is, it doesn't scream out originality or immediate talent, its more of a teaser of what's to come for ISS; it demonstrates potential. It's clear that the post-hardcore genre is still fighting for survival but 3-D isn't enough to break the cycle of genericity. However 3-D delivers what it offers at a good standard and is good enough for a purchase.
The Common Hours: A strong song that demonstrates a more darker/mature side, also more diverse in sound.
I Am Jack's Smirking Revenge: A good pop-core song, encouraging you to sing-a-long.
Comfortably Confused: Again, a good pop-core song, once again it's catchy.
Sing This!: The song that features Bizzy Bone, it's weird but it switches things up.