Review Summary: One big breakdown-fest of nostalgic proportions.
If there was one thing I thought of when I heard that I Killed The Prom Queen was coming out of their hiatus, a move fueled by the addition of former The Red Shore vocalist Jamie Hope, it was nostalgia. In 2008, when they first when into hiatus, metalcore had made up most of my musical listening. But, like everyone, my music tastes changed in three years. Now, three years after reforming, I Killed The Prom Queen has made good on their promise of a mid-2000's metalcore recollection.
Is it original? Not in the slightest. Is it full of breakdowns? Certainly so. Is it good, solid fun? You bet it is.
Jamie Hope, who sounds a bit grating on the first couple of tracks, really smooths things out mid-way through the album, and does a decent job of being the new front-man. He's nothing to write home about, but that's not the point. I equate him to the musical version of a "game manager." He's a solid quarterback who doesn't do anything fantastic, but doesn't do that much wrong either, and lets his running back and defense win the game for him.
Who is the running back to Jamie Hope's quarterback? That is undoubtedly lead guitarist Jona Weinhofen. Jona, along with rhythm guitarist Kevin Cameron, play energized leads and melodic breaks throughout the album. They carry with them the mood of the album, which is the shining feature. They can play angry, sure, but it's their somberness heard on the album that really gets things interesting. The use of strings on songs like "Kjaerlighet" and "Brevity" add a really nifty layer to the songs, serving to further the atmosphere.
This album is full of breakdowns, which you undeniably know already. However, it is worth mentioning that most of them are not dull at all, and are very well placed. There is at least some attempt at adding substance to them, whether it's making them earth-movingly heavy like on "Meilor" and "The Beaten Path", or adding some quick, yet substantial licks to them.
The thing that holds the album back, though, is its lack of a stand-out track. The songs on the album are all solid, but it's missing that one, true highlight. Unfortunately, this results in some of the tracks bleeding together, which is detrimental in a genre that is criticized enough already for its lack of originality in the songwriting department. However, it is the albums nostalgic graces that make it deserve a listen. It's definitely a call-back to the metalcore of the mid-2000's, and it's not one to be missed if you're a fan of that era of the genre.
Where will I Killed The Prom Queen go from here? After the reminiscence wears off, will they improve on a solid release by distancing themselves from the rest of the pack? I certainly hope so, but I suppose that is a bridge we have yet to cross. For now, let us wallow in the nostalgia that I Killed The Prom Queen have provided on 2014's Beloved.