Review Summary: Uniformly bland.
EP was a moderately enjoyable listen littered with sub-par guitar melodies, gravelly vocals, and juvenile themes. Still, it felt like an honest evocation of emotion rather than a facile attempt to be something it wasn’t, resulting in an inoffensive introductory for the band. It stands to reason, then, that Seahaven would have taken the constituent parts of Ghost
- the introverted post-punk experimentation, the angsty post-hardcore vocals, the folksy indie-rock moments - and focused on interspersing them in a more cohesive and invigorating fashion on Winter Forever
. But they didn’t. Quite the contrary; Winter Forever
sees any authenticity or aesthetic merits the band once had reduced to the bare minimum, stripping them of jubilation and honesty.
Here’s the thing - from front to back, Winter Forever
is uniformly bland. Vocalist Kyle Soto sounds the same on every single song, refusing to branch out and dabble into his post-hardcore sensibilities and instead choosing to play it safe. An ineffective utilization of idiosyncratic vocals mars the potentially decent opener (as well as most other tracks). “Goodnight” immediately illustrates the stark contrast to their EP’s sound with softened and polished - but ultimately lifeless - vocals. The bass and electric guitars have great prominence (the latter occasionally enters with ethereal melodies) but the chorus is one of the most boring and by-the-book the band has ever put its name to. The worst part is, far be it from being enjoyable in any capacity, the first song is a damn sight better than the atrocities that proceed it. Every song is inundated with piss-poor indie-punk vocals and follows the same structure as “Goodnight”. Essentially, the remaining 9 tracks are just rehashed ideas - distressingly boring and mind-numbingly stupid at points. “Drag me out into the rain/Tell me all about the pain I’ve been causing/And the way it all makes sense with the weather” whines Soto to no avail on “Slow Down”. Not only is it the album’s most cringe-worthy chorus, but it’s one of the most embarrassingly juvenile things you’ll hear all year. The next five tracks blow by; they accomplish nothing, follow the prototypical verse/chorus layout and lack any sense of emotional awareness. “Honey Bee” is a completely unconvincing acoustic track, stripped of all but Soto’s grating voice and an occasionally strummed acoustic guitar. It’s only on “PV” that Soto sounds like he isn’t feigning emotion -- it’s certainly refreshing, maybe even a little fun, but it doesn’t challenge the most enjoyable moments of Ghost
Despite “PV” imparting a warmer tone via Soto’s surprisingly decent vocal inflection, Winter Forever
has no heart or soul. Everything seems so manufactured, so stripped of Ghost
’s resolutely emotional core that it just comes off as dishonest - something it isn’t. And when Winter Forever
does hit the mark (few and far-between as these moments are) it’s usually because of the strength of its guitar melodies, which alone aren’t enough to save most songs from being unmitigated disasters. Moreover, any potential the band showcases here inevitably falls victim to drab, spiritless wails and repetitive songwriting. The bookends are the only songs that don’t blatantly suck, and everything in-between is better left behind.