Review Summary: You’ll throw up.
Manic Drive started off as a strong heavy rock band with alt-metal, pop-punk, and alt. rock leanings with their first release in 2005, a superb album entitled Reason for Motion. In 2007, they released a further melodic, alt-rock styled album called Reset and Rewind. It included poppier elements than previously, and moderately rid itself of the greater part of Manic’s sonic edge. While it wasn’t god-awful, it wasn’t near as promising as Reason, and you could predict the eventual downfall of Manic. Reset started the downfall, but third release Blue confirmed it. A remix album of sorts, it featured eight tracks from the sophomore outing, and four new tracks. How does this release stack up?
Let me be clear: any hope for Manic is abdicated with this album. While Reset offered a little hope of gaining back a rockier edge, with tracks like Addiction and Obvious, Blue buries this miniscule gem of hope into the ground. Proof can be found in opener Music. While previous openers where album highlights and full of strong energy, Music abandons that with typical violins and synth. Furthermore, the album isn’t quite a remix album, that’s just a fitting title. Rather, they made microscopic changes to songs from Reset, and made four new songs signaling their new direction. What’s the new direction? Shawn has totally thrown away his screaming and gruff vocals, talented guitarist Mike’s enjoyable riffs have taken a back seat to programming elements, former bassist Phil has been dropped from the band, and talented drummer Johnny Dimarco was replaced by less-talented drummer Anthony Moreino. And this has all happened with terrible results.
Ordinarily, standout tracks would fit here. However, there honestly aren’t any. While Walls tries to retain a rock edge, what with its high energy feel and one guitar riff, the overusage of synthesizer and the generic lyrical content prevent that. Carry-over track Blue still sounds alright, but it's one of the only positives. The other item that could somewhat be considered satisfying is that, whoever did bass on this album, it’s partially further surfaced than it was on the previous two records. The redone earlier tracks don’t sound any better, or undoubtedly any different, and an EP would’ve been a better choice for this release, which was probably nothing more than a cash grab.
Speaking of cash grab, Manic Drive did succeed with that: they now have a legion of fans who hate the band’s roots and prefer their generic idiocy. Everything about Manic now screams cash grab: observe at the cover art of the album, listen to the new tracks, and read the lyrics. Speaking of lyrics, they’ve forgone the honest and blunt lyrics from Reason and the cleverly-written lyrics from the majority of Reset in favor of this: Christian contemporary fare, and party band fare. On Music, lyrics describe "bringing the stage to life" and the fact that "nobody takes the soul out of me." There's also the typical "turn the music higher" shoutout. The most embarassing thing, though, is the fact that Manic refers to this song as "rock n' roll." The intro to Walls is filled with "yeahs", while the chorus contains: "you can never stop it from coming, cause there's something going down, these walls are coming down" and there's a verse that goes "can we practice what we preach, and turn these fists into hands that preach." Yes, this has all been beaten over the head.
Here’s what Manic has managed to “accomplish” with this release: screw over all their loyal fans by releasing a commercial crap album that sounds manufactured by an autotuned robot whose powers was ruining considerable alt-rock/heavier rock bands. Manic Drive would barely be deserving of a second chance if they played their heavier songs live, but after suffering through a recorded live show, it seems they want to bury the enjoyable days of Manic. Whether you are a Manic Drive fan or not, don’t buy this. If you are a fan, it’ll just piss you off. If you aren’t a fan, and you want some music with substance, you’ll throw up.