Review Summary: With their sophomore effort, Abandon All Ships cross the line from niche to just plain awful.14 of 17 thought this review was well written
When they released their debut full length album 'Geeving', Abandon All Ships defined the phrase "you either love them or you hate them". While gaining a sizeable fanbase, Abandon All Ships were not short of hate. And who can blame them? Their mixture of Europop and trance with chuggy metalcore certainly aimed for a niche audience. Now they're back with follow-up sophomore effort 'Infamous'. And it's a release that, if anything, will lose their current fans rather than gain new ones.
In fact, after listening to the first two tracks, 'Good Old Friend' and 'Infamous', you could pretty much summarise the entire album. The cheesy Europop influences are back, mixed with similar uninspired metalcore. An extra addition to the mix is a hint of rap influence; the growled vocals come at a much faster pace and 'Infamous' even features rap group A-Game for a brief moment. The album tries to do too much at once and the final result ends up being an overproduced mess.
As an album, 'Infamous' has a clear weakness, and that's the more metal side of the equation. Expectedly, the guitars are anything but technical, refusing to escape from their comfort zone of breakdowns and simple riffs. But what really lets things down is the growling. It was clear from 'Geeving' that the unclean vocals needed to be improved and, on this follow up, they've actually gotten worse. Angelo's growls sound incredibly unnatural an forced. They are simply unpleasant to listen to, and eventually make listening to the album just plain unbearable. 'American Holocaust' is almost unlistenable.
On the flipside, the clean vocals have marginally improved. There are still some sections layered in way too much autotune, like 'Forever Lonely', but there are moments, such as in 'Good Old Friend', where the autotune is toned down a great amount. The vocals are hardly impressive, but for a band with a bad reputation for their over-reliance on autotune, moments like these make the album refreshing. The track 'August', which focusses on clean vocals rather than screams, ends up being the absolute highlight of the album.
The styles end up not mixing together very well at all. While the chorus of 'Infamous' is undeniably catchy, it gets ruined by the headache-inducing screams, and the rap bridge of the song seems out of place and shoe-horned in simply for the sake of it. There's simply too much mashing together, and rather than a beautiful unification of styles, it turns into a clustered mess.
'Geeving' provoked a mixed reaction but certainly catapulted Abandon All Ships into the spotlight. 'Infamous' is an album that ends up being itself infamous for all the wrong reason, that should see the band slowly back away from the spotlight, and hopefully stay away. It has redeeming qualities (see 'August'), but there's just not enough to save this disaster of an album.