Review Summary: Metalcore-by-numbers
Modern rock/metal music is clearly a bit stuck for idea's lately. We all know that as a genre reaches popularity, and more and more bands latch onto it, all possible avenue's of expansion get closed off, until there is nowhere left for innovation. Eventually the genre is all but killed off, leaving bands that all sound like a poor impression of what has come before. Judging from the debut release from At The Skylines, for Metalcore, one of today's most prominent genre's, the decline is clearly already occurring.
At The Skylines formed in 2009, and border on the most melodic side of Metalcore, taking elements of similar genre's such as Post-Hardcore and adding them into mix. Sadly this does not result in anything but a generic record that sounds like the worst moments of Asking Alexandria or Woe, Is Me.
The album starts off as it means to go on, with Hush. This song that starts with a break down, and leads into clean-vocal lead chorus that channels the much lamented "Synth-core" style of bands such as Attack Attack! or I See Stars, a formula the band copies through out the entire album. Meanwhile fifth track Let's Burn This is everything wrong with this album handily put into one song. Starting with some poor screams on top of a generic breakdown, it quickly leads into an electronic passage complete with wobbly vocals. The lyrics certainly don't help either, shown during eighth song The Amazing Atom, which features a short synthesizer solo followed by the lyrics "Let's get sexy for a second."
Each song seems to be poorly structured, with the vast majority song featuring an electronic passage or vocal-less breakdown, purely to connect part of the songs. For example, on The Amazing Atom, there is a short synthesizer passage which connects the verse to what might the worst opening to a song, ever. Later in the song they go straight from a breakdown into a clean passage, featuring guest vocalist Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens, with light backing. While they probably imagined this would grab the listeners attention, it just ends up feeling jarring and poorly thought out. Luckily, this is perhaps something they will learn over time.
The main problem with the album, however, isn't the use of electronic elements, or the over reliance on breakdowns. It's not even how 'generic' the album is, sticking so closely to the template used by the bands peers. Instead, the real problem is that in doing so, it's hard to get rid of the inescapable feeling that you have heard this all before, only better, somewhere else. By offering nothing different from the many other bands doing this exact formula, they have opened themselves up for direct comparison to bands that are simply far better at it than them. Bands who contain better lyrics, song structure and instrumentation. Bands who they simply cannot come close to.
That's not to say there is anything wrong with being 'generic', is not always a bad thing. They only have to look as far as fellow Metalcore act Memphis May Fire to see that you don't need to be innovative, you just have to be good enough at the genre to rise above the rest.
At The Skylines fail on all account, making an album that is repetitive and contains no lasting value at all. They should take a long hard look at whether this is really the sort of material they can be proud of, because there is nothing worth listening to here.