Review Summary: When you look into a microscope, things get real. The Trouble with Angels is like looking into a microscope and seeing only the finest parts of what rock can offer. No BS, no filler.
The problem with most rock bands is that when you listen to them, you only ever get that one sound they have. They never stray far from it, mainly due to two reasons: trying new influences could lose them a precious fan base or they are incapable of playing anything other than what they know. It’s rare to see a band like Filter
release an album where so many songs were so clearly influenced by older bands from such a wide variety of rock/metal genres. The Trouble with Angels
is like a celebration of what rock has to offer, and it is done surprisingly well.
The one comparison that really should be put to rest after this album is that they sound like Nine Inch Nails
. That progressive, atmospheric sound found on their first two albums has been scrapped for much shorter but punchier songs. The real comparison that should be made now has to do with Richard Patrick’s voice. It always occasionally sounded like this on older songs like “Dose”, but here I can safely say his voice is a carbon copy of Porcupine Tree
’s Steve Wilson. The raspy scream Patrick has is still his own, but in the mellower verses, Wilson’s influence is uncanny (see “Down with Me” or “Catch a Falling Knife”). It’s a quieter, whispering voice that then leads into Filter’s usual earth-shattering choruses. Opener “The Inevitable Relapse” takes this influence farther though, with the chorus sounding like Porcupine Tree’s
more metal-infused offerings (see the song “Shallow” off their album Deadwing
where the song structure is almost identical).
The other influences of older bands are here as well. You can hear the heavy, pissed off riffs of Alice in Chains
in “Drug Boy”. Parts of “Absentee Father” sound like they could have been on a later Soundgarden
album. By that point in the track list, I was convinced their genre should be switched to post-grunge instead of industrial. But, like I said, there’s a goddamn buffet of styles at work here. On the very heart-breaking track “No Re-Entry”, it reminds you of the softer moments of Guns ‘N Roses
like “Sweet Child ‘O Mine”. Patrick transitions his voice well here from verse-to-chorus: Hey, it hurts you. Once you leave there’s no re-entry
. The final comparison has to be with Chevelle
, a band that is known for its insanely catchy and heavy riffs. “No Love” is the highlight here with a gorgeous opening riff, but almost every song in the album has that crunchy mainstream rock sound.
The album also has its impressive moments that belong to Filter
alone. It was shocking to hear Patrick use auto-tune in the first song, a weird way to start the album. It works well however. The choruses of “Down with Me” and the title track take that atmospheric sound they used to have and amplify it to stadium-level crowds that can still be heard in the adjacent suburbs of a city. The title track is a middle finger to the Catholic religion and is one of the darkest and angriest songs I have heard from them yet. The subject of religion is not really an important issue here, I happen to be Catholic, it’s more just the effectiveness of lyrics like:
I hope you're not about free thinking
You'll burn in hell til' the end of time
It's too bad that he's this intolerant,
so much for water to wine
(...yikes...plz don’t hurt me Richard, I’ll be good I promise)
Upon first listen, this album came off as formulaic and generic hard rock. You could hear the influences but there was a So What?
issue. Repeated listening sees this album steal your heart before you know it. Closer “Fades like a Photograph (Dead Angel)” is a touching song that has Filter
go out in style. It makes you remember why you listen to rock in the first place; all those bands you grew up with are nostalgic. And that’s what this album is, a nostalgic celebration of rock. I never understood why some people are only impressed when they hear a riff that only six people in the world can play properly. It doesn’t need to be complicated or unique; sometimes a band can create a masterpiece by making something simple. This album loses out on a perfect score because it offers nothing really new to the genre, but anyone who has even an ounce of love for the aforementioned bands should give this a listen for the sheer enjoyment it brings. Nothing is going to beat “Take a Picture” though unfortunately, it’d be hard to do anyways.
The Inevitable Relapse
Down With Me
The Trouble with Angels