Metalcore and guilty pleasure are often associated together, but lately I have been enjoying more and more of that ever so hated genre. In reality, when done properly it can bands falling into that category can be a wonderful listen. Unfortunately, many offer little to nothing new into the genre thus causing them to be labeled as a carbon copy or a cliché act. Than of course there are those bands that seem to play breakdowns as opposed to music. By no stretch does Destroy The Runner revolutionize the genre or stretch it further. Heck there are even breakdowns found on almost every song. But what is heard is impressive melodic guitar work, tightly constructed rhythm sections, solid vocals on both ends, and even some solos. Without progressing the genre further, Saints
marks a notable Solid State debut for the quintet.
Right away a sense of melody is shown in the instrumental intro track “Dialogue”
. There is no slow fade in, fancy effects, or over production, just a straight up normal instrumental track which reveals what the group is all about. A moderate melodic riff is played over some double bass and slowly strummed octave chords. The perfect amount of suspense is built up for the album. Things do not disappoint in the least bit as “My Darkness”
delivers a powerful punch with some catchy riffs and a hook to boot. Vocalist Kyle Setter introduces his vocal strength on both ends. He has an excellent scream with a bit of a raw edge. Thankfully he is free of phlegm when he screams, keeping his style from spoiling. His clean vocals are very impressive as well as they usually add provide a great deal of power to the songs. In the opener they contribute to a memorable catchy chorus. However they receive plenty of assistance from guitars in that aspect. Throughout the song quality riffs persist, from the intro, to the verse, and heck even the chorus itself has an insanely present riff. There is a nicely executed short breakdown during the song and they choose to do an excellent transition from that to the chorus incorporating part of the intro riff. During the final chorus some wonderful dual vocals come out to emphasis on the repeat. One more section with a breakdown feel hits hard to end the song. While not revolutionary, “My Darkness”
provides an extremely powerful start to the record.
Quality is only improved upon with “Columbia”
. This song has a great deal of factors which should strike a positive note with listeners. Once again the riff quality is top notch with their melody driven sound. They play a great harmony during the intro. As the song continues its undeniable flow is ever so noticeable. Once more a singing chorus comes out and is just a perfect fit. Then the biggest surprise on the record occurs, a guitar solo. Make that the second biggest surprise as the dominating one should be the down right ridiculously good quality of the solo. It opens a bit moderately very melodic. Than a bit of shredding comes out while still maintaining a focus on melody. There is a great hammer on pull off section at the end before the two guitarists harmonize to end the lead. They modify a riff and once more transition into the chorus. Powerful, memorable, and as discovered in this song, meaningful are all words to describe the record. If not obvious by the opening track a new trait of the band shows its face, their lyrics.
itself suggests a Christian influenced band and the lyrics further show that. They lyrics are indeed a strong point of the record. Unlike certain bands with Christian beliefs, the lyrics never come off as preachy or controlling. Here the subjects are based more on personal conviction, past experiences, and hope. Many of the lyrics almost shine a light for the future suggesting an optimistic and positive state. This becomes obvious in “Columbia”
as certain lines jump out. “We all learn from our failures / Failure is death, and I have overcome it. / With not a single tear of remembrance / I choose to forget and start all over.”
. The title track on the record makes their beliefs fairly obvious yet manages to maintain a preachy free state. They are wonderfully written and focus on how they would be lost without their guidance from God. “ We've dimmed our lights past darkness / Hiding our way back from this / Swallowing every glimpse of our faithfulness / Who will guide us home when we cannot see?”
. The lyrics are very enjoyable in the fact that they can imply such faith and trust without ever becoming overly preachy. They also can be related to with other aspects of life, almost giving them a multiple dimensional meaning in certain instances. While I’m sure many will not think of the lyrics as a booster point for the band, they should not do anything to take away from the record. The lyrics are not the only thing that helps pull the band away from other’s around them.
Aside from the melody laced leads and wonderful dual vocal styles, the band can take on another style. It is a slightly softer sound and adds a pinch of a dramatic atmosphere. The first taste of it is on the title track “Saints”
. From the get go the slower tempo is apparent. A moderate riff opens the song is typical form. However the massive amount of singing and the calmly strummed octave chords really pull this song away from what format the group has showed so far. Once more diversity is shown after the second chorus. The opening riff comes out and things slow down more, it feels like the build of a breakdown. In reality it is a slow bridge without a single chug. The extended passage is a marvelous transition into the final chorus. It is noticed that the group is absolutely incredible at putting together smoothly flowing songs as shown by the first three tracks. They each contain individual aspects which separate them apart from each other yet clutch certain similar aspects contributing to a strong identity overall.
With such a strong start to the record, Destroy The Runner uses these sounds and makes a run with them. Sound repetitive? Not so much. The consistency stays high throughout the record making things an enjoyable listen. In addition to that, the remaining songs have certain sections which make them stick out individually. Similar to the title track, “From The Red”
holds an epic atmosphere. This is not apparent right away, but by the time its slow and emotionally driven chorus is revealed a grand ambiance is evident. The chorus really makes the song a possible contender for the emotion peak of the record. However, I’m sure that many listeners will shoot it down as crappy second wave, faux emo metalcore after hearing lines such as “Take this heart / And let it die slow.”
This song is almost a split for the record as it has the tendency to make some dig the music even more while others will be turned away from it. It still makes phenomenal usage of their elements and the song’s flow is absolutely brilliant.
As far as album flow is concerned, things do not disappoint in the least bit. One main reason is that filler is really not found. The only complaint is that by the time “Pallbearer”
rolls around things are beginning to get a tad repetitive. Regardless of that, the quality of the final song is still extremely high. The riffs are very present and melody driven even though their tendency is starting to spoil. Perhaps the only disappointment in the song is the singing is somewhat whinny in parts of the chorus. While not enough to detract from the song itself, if one is knit picking the flaw can be exposed. To end the song there is another top notch solo after the bridge. The lead is very emotionally driven and serves as a wonderful transition as well. A speedy drum roll leads into the final chorus and a quick modified version to end it. Once more it shows off how well the band transitions everything and how each part of a song fits the overall puzzle. Just as I say that possibly the worst transition is revealed. A fade in following “Pallbearer”
brings in “Resolution”
which is the exact same instrumental used to open the record. In all honesty they should have modified it so it fits more appropriately or just not put in an outro track at all. Thankfully it only lasts a minute and some change so it really does not detract from the ending of a very impressive debut.
So what exactly makes this debut so impressive? Let’s work things backwards for one second. You are a metalcore act putting out a debut, what are the typical things that plague a record? What comes to my mind is bland riffs, terrible vocals, choppy transitions, filler tracks, and of course far too many breakdowns used with no restraint. None of those things are found here. In their place are melody driven riffs, powerful screaming, beautiful singing, smooth and fluently flowing songs, and calculated breakdown and solo usage. Not every song contains a breakdown and not every song contains a solo, showing exactly how much vision and discipline Destroy The Runner possess at such a young age. Their lyrics focus on some diverse subjects from their peers and the subjects and overall messages found in them are terrific. All of these positive aspects lead to a strong album which has an undeniable flow to it. They do not rely on many aspects that their music contains. For example, a song does not revolve around its catchy chorus, or its shredding lead, or its brutal breakdown. What their songs rely on is an overall flow of all of these aspects when they choose to utilize them. It is such a refreshing change and leads to a very impressive debut record. Saints
is just dripping with excellence in both the music quality and in the lyrical subjects, leaving complaints at a minimum.
+Memorable guitar riffs and leads
+Fantastic vocals on both ends
+Smoothly flowing songs
+Variety is shown in transitions and style
+Lyrical subjects are fairly unique and well executed
-Becomes slightly repetitive towards the end
-Not a groundbreaking original sound
Final Rating: 3/5