Review Summary: Enjoyable inconsistency.
Close Your Eyes were in a difficult place in between their second and third records, mostly due to the departure of founding vocalist Shane Raymond. It’s always difficult to replace a band member, especially when the member in question has performed on everything released by the band and arguably issued the most noticeable performance of the group on these past releases. Raymond’s signature hardcore yells and soaring clean singing were virtually the face of the band. While the instrumentals were in no way weak, Close Your Eyes was always at their best pushing Raymond to the forefront. Finally 2013 brought a replacement in Englishman Sam Robinson and Line In The Sand
came, presumably, in an effort to live up to its title. Close Your Eyes intended to prove they could carry on without Raymond, and for the most part it gets the job done. The band’s hardcore fury shines on tracks like “Sleeping Giant” and “Skeletons” while the more metalcore esque structuring of their past comes through on “The End” and “Burdened By Hope”. Robinson’s vocals are admirable in their own right. Despite not exactly being a departure from Raymond’s style, with the usual scream/sing mix, his accent manages to make it feel like more of a change than it really is. A deeper growl from backing vocalist Brent Callaway further varies the vocal performance. The band’s Christian beliefs shine through on the lyrics to “Glory” in a bit of an overly blunt way, but the more personal lyricisms of many other tracks make up for it. If there’s anything Line In The Sand
truly proves, it’s that the band has the energy to at least sound
reinvigorated, but it’s the coherency of the entire record that cracks the façade.
Line In The Sand
starts to feel bloated in the back half, once you realize that Close Your Eyes managed to stuff a full fifteen tracks into the album. Especially tiring is the near constant change in style between songs. For every pummeling hardcore track, there’s an awkwardly placed softer song to contrast it. The first few tracks are the only ones that don’t markedly change from one another, but once “Frame and Glass” hits things start to feel confused. The song itself is fantastic, but frankly it calls to mind Foo Fighters rather than the band that actually performs it. Of course the band further confounds by following it up with one of their heaviest offerings in “Sleeping Giant”. While these contrasting shades of sound aren’t bad by definition, and most of the songs themselves are perfectly fine, the way Close Your Eyes uses the contrast makes the album sound incoherent. In addition, while Robinson’s vocals are great, they just can’t stand up to the sheer power of Raymond’s impassioned howl and his lyrics likewise feel a bit like a step down. Despite these shortcomings, none of this manages to actually ruin Line In The Sand
. To the contrary, it’s impressive that the album remains as fun as it is, and worth the time of any Close Your Eyes fan.