Review Summary: Generic isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s not necessarily good either.
To be quite honest, I could probably just leave you faithful readers with that summary and we could be done here - it describes the album pretty damn well. But, since I’m a music reviewer who typically spends two to three paragraphs spewing some sort of analytical bullshi
t about whatever it is I’m reviewing, I might as well expand on the summary. Because holy hell is this album generic. It’s got everything alt-metal loves: big, tuned-down power chords, vocals that alternate between screaming and growly upper-register singing, and kick-drum and crash-cymbals galore. Everything about the album screams generic, much like Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory
and Digital Summer’s Breaking Point
. The latter is an especially accurate comparison, as the sound on the whole smacks of Digital Summer minus the only thing that made Digital Summer worthwhile, namely guitarist Jon Stephenson’s excellent and refreshingly original riffs. The homogeneous and formulaic nature of Illusion
gets so bad that I’m having trouble even coming up with a single song to demonstrate my point - they all do it so equally well that the idea of a “sample song” that typifies the album is almost worthless. I suppose “Through It All” would suffice as an example, though. The vocalist vaguely sounds like Chester Bennington as he whines about typical alt-metal topics like rising from the ashes, broken hearts, and day turning into night. The drummer crashes away at whatever toms and cymbals he can reach, achieving a typical alt-metal smorgasbord of pounding sounds. The power chords are prevalent as well, and the typical head-banging beat fits in quite well with the simplistic strumming on the lower end.
Granted, “Through It All” also exemplifies one of the few things Illusion
does differently: the guitars are actually kind of interesting up in the higher register. The addition of frantic octave strumming over the quality-assurance-mark-standard riffing and chugging takes Spoken a step or two away from the alt-metal hell of mediocrity. And, to be fair, as my summary states, the generic nature of the album isn’t necessarily bad, though it’s sure as hell not necessarily good either. This might be the “rebellious,” take-me-to-Hot-Topic-Mom teenager lurking somewhere inside me speaking, but the album is fun. Just as the aforementioned Hybrid Theory
and Breaking Point
were enjoyable listens, if nothing more, so Illusion
is fun for jamming out on air guitar and generally having a good time. While this doesn’t necessarily make the album good music, per se, it’s definitely a redeeming factor that should be noted. However, fun-factor and some mildly interesting guitar riffs alone can’t make a whole album. Spoken has created an entirely run-of-the-mill beast here, and if that’s worthwhile to you, dear reader, then by all means go ahead and enjoy it. I know I did too, to an extent - after all, a 2.5 isn’t bad by any means. I just wish there were more that Illusion
could have done within its admittedly formulaic genre, but knowing both the current and former states of alt-metal something like that would be difficult. Unfortunately for Spoken, this album falls dangerously close to an irredeemable, generic mess, and its positioning within the music world bodes poorly for its fate.