Review Summary: A nostalgic look back at the earlier days of Metalcore.
Australian metalcore band Never See Tomorrow rose to prominence through their cover of Vanessa Carlton’s, ‘1000 Miles’ and released their debut EP, ‘To The Depths’ in 2007. And although the recording quality wasn’t up to the standard of more prominent metalcore acts, ‘To The Depths’ took the concept of metalcore and did everything perfectly; catchy hooks, technical riff work and pounding breakdowns. Then after releasing the EP, Never See Tomorrow faded in obscurity and while they were gone the metalcore scene changed, arguably for the worse. Melodic hooks were sacrificed for breakdown after breakdown, singing became either high pitched, auto-tuned or both and there was a noticeable lack of anything unique, with the Victory, Sumerian & Rise Records machine churning out an abundance of cookie cutter metalcore bands, often indistinguishable from one another.
It’s a genre that’s shifted dramatically, however Never See Tomorrow thankfully missed the memo and after lying dormant for five years, they’re back; bigger, better and wiser than before. I couldn’t help feeling a sense of nostalgia as I listened to the new record for the first time. Although heavier, the music still remains closely centered around strong melodic ideas, with the breakdowns acting as the climax point of a song, rather than just filler material. In essence this is a record plucked from past, from an era when bands such as Bullet For My Valentine and Killswitch Engage were at the forefront of the metalcore scene, however with a modern approach to song writing and production techniques.
Indeed the step up in production is one of the first differences that’s clearly obvious in this latest effort. Ironically they’ve still taken the same approach to recording, tracking guitars separately as well as utilizing the facilities at Electric Sun Studios, however while the EP sounded thin and slightly muffled, there’s a much more well balanced sound showcased here; the drums hit a bit harder, the guitar tones are a bit thicker and they obviously spent more time recording and tweaking the music, as the songs are much tighter overall, with not a note or beat out of place.
As far as songwriting goes, not much has changed, although they do experiment outside the usual formula on multiple occasions; opener ‘Awaken’ and interlude ‘Awakened' both feature acoustic guitar picking and piano, breaking up the album nicely, while ‘Sky Gazer’ is a legitimate attempt at creating a metalcore ‘epic’, along the lines of Parkway Drive’s ‘Romance Is Dead’ and ‘Horizons’. In fact one of the strongest songs on the album is actually a rock ballad, ‘Faded Memories’, which commences with a simple acoustic pattern and heartfelt singing, building up to massive hard rock finale.
The heavier songs are also well written and tastefully done. Highlights include, ‘Follow The Phoenix’, basically an example of what a good metalcore song should include. Opening with some frenetic tapping guitar work in the higher register, it traverses an arrangement of riffs, choruses and musical ideas, before wrapping up with a cataclysmically large and catchy ending, topped off with a melodic guitar solo. You heard me; a guitar solo! A carefully constructed guitar solo is an aspect which has been sadly absent from metalcore in recent times, so much so that when this song came on over the car stereo it took all my self-control to keep my hands on the wheel and not play along on air guitar. Other high points of the album include, ‘For Your Eyes Only’, a pop punk metalcore anthem, in the vein of early ‘A Day to Remember’ and ‘The Reality Of A Dream’, which keeps up a frantic pace, displaying some of the best clean vocals in metalcore in recent times. Guitarist and vocalist Paul Kozman has a decent set of vocals chops, with a real rock & roll edge and he utilizes them to their full extent, covering a wide range and inter-playing effectively with the unclean vocals, which are also well executed.
My only criticism is that much of the album sounds the same, following the same formula and as a result it does fall a little flat throughout the middle, despite ending strongly. Also some of the hooks were stronger in the previous EP, ‘To The Depths’. Despite these shortcomings, ‘Nst.’ is welcome breath of fresh air in a crowded, generic scene and I look forward to what these guys can do in the years to come. Just hopefully next time we don’t have to wait five years for another release.
The Reality of A Dream
Follow The Phoenix