Things change. Maybe that’s not the most stunning revelation of all time, but it’s one certainly thrown around enough to have lost any actual relevance. Only when the phrase is actually attached to something readily distinguishable does it regain its meaning.
In many cases in music, change can be suicide, especially in notably drastic cases. In completely contradictory instances, however, change can be the thing needed to ignite a group’s fame – or if not that, at least pave the way to it. Such is the case in Envy, with their first full length album, From Here to Eternity. Nearly completely distancing itself from its predecessor, Breathing and Dying in this Place, the sound carved out in From Here to Eternity is a stepping stone to later masterpieces such as A Dead Sinking Story and All The Footsteps You’ve Ever Left and the Fear Expecting Ahead.
From the start, evidence of the style change is all but noticeable. As Breathing and Dying in this Place took more of a metal and punk approach with its sound, From Here to Eternity is the first album in which Envy makes substantial use of hardcore and emo influences in its music. Right off the bat, one of Envy’s now signature sounds is introduced. “Limitation” begins with a slow, repeated, clean guitar piece, with yet another accentuating it, broken only by a streaming flow of brutal sound. Yet, as in their later days, the sound carved out is still accessible to a wider audience than that of other groups.
From Here to Eternity also adds a bit more of something that Breathing and Dying in this Place mostly lacked: substance. Unlike the tracks off of Breathing and Dying in this Place, which didn’t really seem like songs as much as they seemed just mere tracks, From Here to Eternity offers something more to it. Songs like “Trembled” and “For You Who Died” offer a more emotional and sincere feel – something that the Envy of the past lacked and the Envy of today holds in spades.
Though, as mentioned before, From Here to Eternity still does not portray a truly refined Envy, only a gateway to one. The tracks still suffer from the brevity that their earlier work did. With no song amounting to more than about four and a half minutes, From Here to Eternity is but a mere chapter compared to the epics that Envy would later write. And to add to the brevity, most songs have a rushed feel as it is. The awesome build ups that Envy has become so loved for in its later days are absent from this album. From Here to Eternity still retains much of the faster punk and hardcore influence that Breathing and Dying in this Place held. Sometimes this pays off while other times it becomes tedious. Ultimately, it gives the tracks a very uniform sound, with but a few exceptions (“Limitation” being one of these). The vocals sound nearly interchangeable between tracks throughout the entire album as well.
And while on the topic of vocals, From Here to Eternity is not Tetsuya’s shining moment. His voice on this album is still not quite as refined as it could be, both in his screaming and singing. Tetsuya’s scream on From Here to Eternity has a very rough sound to it, and it’s all but consumed by pure rawness, which in this case is not exactly a great thing. After a few tracks, it can become tiring. Tetsuya’s use of vocal dynamics seems mostly shallow. Though the vocals seem very reminiscent of later Envy, there’s a certain, intangible tone to it that makes it much less appealing on this album. His singing voice, however, is far more noticeably unappealing. Tetsuya’s voice is shaky, and his vocal range here is even narrower than his present. Songs such as “Grey Wind” give overwhelming proof of how true this is. Overall though, it could be argued that Tetsuya’s voice sounds much “younger” than in his more recent singing years.
For the most part, From Here to Eternity is a solid album. There’s a lot of interesting points to it that have become staples of Envy’s most recent sound, though at the same time, it still retains several unappealing traits of its predecessor. The limited depth to songs and the rushed feel reinstate the fact that From Here to Eternity is still just a transition and not a complete redefinition of the band. Despite this, it’s at least still huge departure in style from Breathing and Dying in this Place. Substance has become a more meaningful aspect to Envy’s songwriting, as well as dynamics, but as shown from here, Envy still has farther to go musically.
I give this album a 3.9 (or as Sputnik rounds it, a 4) out of 5. It’s still a very good album, but not quite as impressive as All The Footsteps You’ve Ever Left and the Fear Expecting Ahead, its follow up album. From Here to Eternity is a good introductory – though not entirely representative – album to Envy’s sound. Getting a feel for this album allows a listener to gain even more respect for Envy’s later albums, such as A Dead Sinking Story.