Review Summary: This is not the Structures you know and that's a good thing...
The fact that Structures managed to do so well with a debut as inaccessible as Divided By is beyond me. While it wasn’t exactly bad, it completely overwhelmed the listener with its bizarre mish mash of technical metalcore, pop punk and groove metal that missed more times than it hit (Hydroplanning joke completely intentional). Maybe I am being too harsh, but to anyone who actually managed to sit through the entire of the aforementioned album then you sir, deserve a medal. So here we are, fast forward three years, subtract a vocalist and bassist and you will end up where we are now, Life Through A Window.
In fact, when I first heard ‘The Worst Of Both Worlds’ featuring Drew York (Stray From The Path) it seemed like it was over for Structures, as if they had fallen apart before they had a chance to show what they could do. In fact if it wasn’t for the early release of ‘Follower’ I probably wouldn’t have even listened to LTAW, which to be honest would have been completely unfair. However, this is not the Structures you know; sure they still play 8 string guitars with their own brand of groovy tech, but the main difference here is that this is a significantly more focused band. The biggest problem with Divided By was that it never really felt like you were listening to a cohesive song, just a clusterf**k of genres thrown into what they perceived as music. LTAW does not completely do away with this but it sure does come close.
Guitarist Brendon Padjasek has stepped up to fulfil vocal duties this time around and to be fair, he is a pretty competent guy to have behind the mic. Sure he won’t win any points for diversity but his shouts compliment the bands new found focus. But I probably should have got this out the way first, if you’re not a fan of groovy riffs, tech, breakdowns or Sumerian Records (then again who is?) then you should pretty much just ignore LTAW, it will not change your mind, it does not do anything ground breaking and it sure doesn’t care what you think. But this is a good thing, instead of trying to do way too much at once, Structures have rolled back the tempo and actually learned how to blend their original vision of tech and heavy riffs into something that at times is pretty impressive. Hey, I even managed to sit through it in one sitting.
Instrumentally LTAW is a lot more melodic in its approach to lead guitar work, occasionally playing around with atmosphere with some nice reverb plus delay sections that actually have those cool moments that just weren’t there in the bands prior material. Album opener ‘Buried’ demonstrates this nicely before jumping into some pretty crushing rhythm work. Drums have been scaled back, but once again, this is a good thing. Instead, precision is key and Andrew McEnaney should be pleased with his performance. Rhythm work wise, it’s a massive improvement over Divided By (if you can call it rhythm). Songs have a definite direction that they are headed in and it’s nice to see these songs have an obvious timeline rather than being an incomprehensible collection of riffs that have been super glued together. Production is also pretty strong, but nothing spectacular which is the staple mark of Sumerian Records brand of new wave metal bands. However there is less studio trickery here, which plagued prior releases, but then again this probably was to do with the bands overly ambitious initial attitude.
So you’re probably looking at that 3.5/5 up there and scratching your head. LTAW is not perfect; in fact I should probably not enjoy it. On paper this album represents almost everything I hate about modern metal, but I cannot shake the similar ‘fun’ feeling that IKTPQ had on their latest release. Songs are dominated by low tuned 8-string guitar grooves pretty much all the time, hate breakdowns? LTAW has loads. Hate featured artists? Happens twice. Not a fan of sing along gang vocals? Deal with it. Goofy lyrics? Why are you still reading this review? So yes, it is far from perfect and falls into a lot of trappings that have become associated with the metalcore/tech scene. But Structures have managed to create an album that shows what they are capable of. We can only hope that they use this as a point of reference and branch out into lands anew.