Review Summary: After losing 5 band members, picking up where you left off isn't easy.
Following their formation in 2009, it didn't take long for people to catch wind of Atlanta GA's Woe is Me. Featuring former Of Machines drummer Austin Thornton, and showcasing a solid team of young Atlanta musicians including the endearing vocal duo of Tyler Carter and Michael Bohn, they quickly got the attention of Rise and Velocity Records and were signed before even playing their first show.
However, after their first album Number[s] was released, differences behind the scenes began to quickly tear the band apart. Tyler Carter, Michael Bohn, Ben Ferris, Cory Ferris, and Tim Sherrill are all missing as we go into their latest effort Genesi[s] leaving original members Austin Thornton and Kevin Hansen with Hance Alligood, Doriano Magliano, Brian Medley, and Andrew Paiano to pick up the pieces. I'll admit, the new batch might have stranger names, but besides that, we can't really judge whether this new album will be effected in a good way or a bad way by all this change. But one thing is for certain. It will be different.
A lot of elements that were present in Number[s] are left behind. You won't find the haunting ambient guitars and keyboards, poetic lyrics, and R&B inspired singing. And unfortunately, there appears to be a struggle to progress as far as musicianship and songwriting go. Some of the new elements fit together. Most don't. The guitar riffs seem to be more inspired by bands such as The Ghost Inside or Parkway Drive this time around, although they aren't executed nearly as well. And the melodic parts are more in the Pop Punk realm, channeling A Day to Remember and Four Year Strong. As you can imagine, the combination gives us a sound which is very hit or miss.
The album kicks off energetically with a 30 second intro entitled "D Day" which consists of random mechanical sounds and voices (I guess it's not too uncommon of bands these days) and the fierce "FYI", showing they're out to prove they still have what it takes. New screamer Doriano Magliano may not have the most active range but he makes up for it with raw passion and emotion, leading the band with lyrics "With the devil on my back and God in my heart, I used the hands that built you up to ***ing rip you apart". There's definitely an angry undertone all throughout Genesi[s].
"A Story to Tell" follows and is one of the stronger songs on the album and gives the listener a good idea of Woe is Me v2.0. Intense orchestral melodies, impactful breakdowns, and strong vocals make this track worth listening to. In "Nothing Left to Lose" I feel Woe, is Me really shows the theme they are trying to send in this collection of songs. "Did you honestly think for a second we played our final song? In spite of those disagree, you know it feels damn good to prove you wrong!" It is undoubtedly, one of the catchiest and more memorable songs here.
Clean vocalist Hance Alligood sounds great, showing he is more than capable of writing catchy anthemic melodies, but something just doesn't feel right. I'm not sure his voice is quite tailored for the Pop Punk sound the band puts under him, and on top of that, he is severely underused in the album compared to Doriano, which can make things monotonous at times.
As Track 6 "The Walking Dead" rolls around, things began to feel a bit flat. The songs do very little to differentiate themselves from each other and it becomes more and more apparent as the album continues. Little moments, such as the appearance of Caleb Shomo in "With Our Friend[s] Behind Us" and a jazz inspired buildup in "I Came, I Saw, I Conquered" show brief sparks of interest, but in the end, its hard to find qualities in this album that will make you come back. The lyrics are very bitter, angry, and vengeful all the way through and most songs fail to follow a different formula.
We are greeted by acoustic guitars on Track 10 "Family First", and Hance Alligood is finally given a chance to really shine, handling sole vocal duties. He leads a powerful singalong with lyrics "Every dream begins with a dreamer. We have a hope we must defend." The album ends on a bit of a whimper with an acoustic version of "Nothing Left to Lose", but at least it gives more time for Hance to sing. Plus, if there was a song on the album I wouldn't mind hearing twice, it would probably be that one.
Overall, Genesi[s] isn't a terrible effort. There are some redeeming qualities, and I think it might have even been received better if it wasn't a Woe is Me album. But that's the thing. Woe is Me showed so much potential with Number[s] but as I said above, they failed to show progression with Genesi[s]. I just don't think it was possible to make a follow up close to the first album with most of the original band missing. The magic just isn't there anymore.