Review Summary: A complete turnaround from the infamous 'Surrounded by Silence', but Design the Skyline still have many more mistakes to learn from.
After a quick look at the music video for Design the Skyline's 'Surrounded by Silence', it is highly understandable why so many listeners felt an undying rage against the music industry. It's a painful experience; it is an assault of stupidity on your ears, and it's also horrible visually. The perfect definition of the "scene kids" subculture, accompanied by some extremely ridiculous nicknames. Design the Skyline was doomed to be some sort of obscure internet meme to represent low intelligence in the youth of today as they try to break into the music industry, shrouded over by genuinely respectable artists.
Or so we thought.
'Nevaeh' is the exact opposite of the aforementioned disaster. Whether it's by label Victory Records influence or their own decision after being bombarded with hatred on their original material, Design the Skyline's album material (shock and horror) actually makes sense. Gone are the poor attempts at mathcore, and, although some of the problems still remain.
Opening track 'Crystal Swords Kill the Hordes' should get across what the majority of the album is all about. Opening with *sigh* chugging, this song gets better once it advances beyond this bland and uninspired mess of open notes. It really picks up at the chorus. Synth-infused metalcore is not uncommon any more, there are endless streams of bands coming into the style, but Design the Skyline, surprisingly, to some extent, gets it right. Despite being simplistic, the synth tunes simplicity is actually its biggest strength. It melds well with the guitar, and bassist Ethan White's clean vocals, despite bordering on whiny, actually creates a half-decent hooks.
'Reality Away' follows on from this trend. The keyboards and clean vocals are actually the band's biggest strengths; the synth section towards the end is actually rather mesmerizing. Lead single 'Break Free From Your Life' edges to close to highly generic "synthcore", but could be called a guilty pleasure.
It's ironic that, as I was thinking of how well the keyboard is implemented, the other tracks off the album 'Destroyer', 'Cybernetic Strawflower', 'Witch of the Woods' and 'Under The Blood Driven Moon' range from very little to none of it whatsoever. It's a tad disappointing, and these tracks sound like fairly plain, uninteresting deathcore.
The rest of the album is seemingly just filler. We have two interludes and an outro. These songs are a complete stray from the deathcore of the rest of the album, for better or for worse. The main advantage is that they prove that they can *gasp* actually play their instruments very well, although these tracks might as well be ignored.
The main weakness of the entire album is the vocals. Daniel Garza (no, I will not call you "Dani Doom") makes poor attempts at gutteral screams, and ends up gargling most of them, creating an unpleasant sound down your ears. With full-volume headphones, it's potentially headache-inducing.
'Nevaeh' is neither truly amazing or disastrously bad. It's a far cry from 'Surrounded by Silence', but also a far cry from truly decent. 'Nevaeh' proves that they have a lot of talent (well, except the vocalists) but they just haven't put it to good use yet. Let's hope they learn from their mistakes, otherwise there's more of this middle-of-the-line disappointment on the way.