Review Summary: Although it doesn't exactly make its way into your head or your heart, These Are Lights is still a pretty fun time for your ears.
When the chaotic and emotionally charged atmosphere from a hardcore album is blended together with the musical chops of metal just right, it will most likely result in something great. (Unless there was a major error during the writing process.) This great result being an alive, crushing, and altogether entertaining metalcore album. This combination gets even better when unique elements that aren’t usually found in hardcore or metal are added to the mix, because when this is done, it means no metalcore album that’s concocted will ever be in exactly the same vein. But remember what I said earlier, all of these things need to be blended together just right.
The Armed’s These Are Lights
looks like a superb metalcore outing on paper. It has the technical but still tightly wound riffing, inspired and frantic vocals, and a fair amount of those fun unique elements. But rather than evenly blending all these things together, and letting each have their time to shine, the band layers them on top of each other, creating a very dense collection of songs.
Yes, the riffs are fun, and well-written for the most part, but they begin to become hard to distinguish from each other over the course of the album. And while the vocals are frantic, and while you can tell there is real inspiration and emotion behind them, they begin to grow dull as well, simply from a lack of variation. The only song that features clean vocals (which are very well done, and the album should’ve had more of) is “Gave Up,” and they’re still layered beneath a voice effect, reminiscent of a PA system, just like the single-toned yells the rest of the songs consist of. Along with these downfalls, pretty much every song does have its own unique trait that distinguishes itself from the other songs, but these traits are so buried beneath the songs’ other layers, they’re difficult to find, or remember, depending on the listener.
But these aspects don’t bring the album down to the point of it not being entertaining at all. These Are Lights
still has more than a few standout moments. “Buy A Snake” is an extremely well-structured song, and it features a great riff during the verses. Coming out of “I Steal What I Want,” a pretty interlude led by horns, “Grand Party Frankenstein” is fast, fun, and makes you wanna jump around. It’s led by a great, pure rock n’ roll verse riff, and it has a short, but sweet solo, too. And the album’s closer, “The Great Fatsby,” another very well-structured song, is heavy and ends the album nicely. But the one thing all these songs share, and perhaps the album’s biggest downfall, is that the songs are too short.
Aside from the songs’ layers of heavy dissonance and vocal effects already making it sound distant to the listener, the songs seeming to end right before they (could) get really good is the biggest reason why this album makes for merely a fun listen, rather than an enthralling journey. Every song, while overflowing with potential, seems to be only a blurb of what it could become. The songs flow together well, but they’re not linked
together because few of the songs have a strong sense of closure that make you ready for, or make you expect the next track to begin. At times, it almost seems like each song was written on a completely different occasion, and for a completely different reason, with no regard to all of the songs being on the same album. This is why the album rarely makes you think or feel, and just makes you listen. (And maybe bang your head just a little bit, too.)
These Are Lights
is loaded with fun, well-written riffs that unfortunately get lost in a haze of dissonance, along with the many other layers that stack up the album’s songs. The album contains a fair amount of interesting, unique elements that could’ve been a lot more interesting if they were more prevalent in the mix. And though I can hear real inspiration behind them, the vocals grow monotonous pretty quickly. Although it doesn’t make its way into your head or your heart, These Are Lights
is still worth the listen to at the very least, make your ears perk up.
Buy A Snake
I Steal What I Want
Grand Party Frankenstein