Review Summary: A Static Lullaby's self titled album falls victim to a very inconsistent state. While its heavier songs are usually enjoyable, the softer tunes really take away from the record and prevent it from establishing a consistent flow.
A Static Lullaby was nothing but a name to me for the longest time. I recall hearing their name mentioned on The Taste of Chaos tour some years ago and hearing someone drop their name once in awhile, but I was never completely compelled or motivated to check them out. Yet when the line up was revealed for 2007’s Take Action Tour and they were on the bill as one of the opening acts I figured that I was due for a listen, seeing as I would attend the show. The fact that the group had recently released a self titled album only helped my case. With no past knowledge or experiences for comparisons, A Static Lullaby
is a slightly over produced record with some heavy riffs, rapid rhythms, and an aggressive yet melodic nature. On the other end it has a more peaceful side on which the band attempts to create some diverse moods. Despite it falling victim to a generic and inconsistent state, it ends up more enjoyable than not.
One of the first things noticeable of this record is the production. It is both a hit and a miss in the sense that it is slightly over produced. However, the compromise and advantage of this is that bass is clearly heard. In fact the overall mix here is very pleasing but listeners might be curious as to how this would sound in a rawer environment. Regardless of that, the production really does not take away much from the record. A brief key section opens “Hang ‘Em High”
before the entire group comes in with their sound. Consisting of rapid drums, speedy chords, and intense screams, things start off with a bang. They stay at that tempo and ferocity for a few mere bars before introducing a more melodic side. The rest of the verse is much softer as it introduces one hell of a catchy chorus. They do some dual vocal patterns throughout the chorus, and do it quite well. There is a lot indeed going on so far, yet they all keep it very smooth in transition and overall sound. Drums have a great deal of enjoyable fills and during the bridge the guitarists dish out some tasteful riffs. The noticeably heavy bridge somehow transitions beautifully into the final chorus. “And it’s more than just a loss / but it’s over / we’re not singing mournful thoughts / and it’s over”
As simple as they are, those lines are down right infectious. It is quite easy to see why “Hang ‘Em High”
was a single as it starts the record off in terrific fashion. However, things falter very early.
The second track “Contagious”
is much slower than the previous track as well as far worse. Things here sound very forced, from the screaming at a slower tempo to a lot of the singing transitions. Musically things take a huge step back as well as plenty of the riffs and leads are bland. Overall both the slow tempo and the softer sound in general do not work here. There really is not a whole lot to remember about this one as things drag on forever and in general it sounds as though the band is just going through the motions. It also doesn’t help that this is the second longest track on the record. This really does show a very unfortunate aspect of the record; as the heaviness dies down, the quality tends to follow it. This repeats itself once more in “The Collision”
. After a short clean guitar intro, some shouting comes in over top of it. Things sound half hearted and entirely out of place. The only saving grace here is some nice bass lines during the verse. Once more the singing in the chorus sounds forced, mainly due to its transition. The tone of the singing is enjoyable but in general the song is far too boring for its long length due to predictable transitions and repetitive sections. I am all for variety in a record, but here A Static Lullaby has not determined how to construct these types of songs well.
Thankfully, their self titled record features more of the fast paced, in your face songs which they do know how to do fairly well. “The Art of Sharing Lovers”
is a prime example of this, as it takes listener’s through multiple sections while keeping a consistent groove. Its slowly building lead brings in a bit of suspense before a fast paced verse takes over. The riff persists into the first half of the verse keeping the intensity up. When the transition to singing is made, it flows well as guitars turn the volume down for a few bars. Eventually things transition back to screaming before they churn out a singing chorus. With the multiple mood and intensity shifts, this could be a recipe for disaster. However, here they transition extremely fluently and things stay enjoyable. The guitar work here is really a treat as riffs and rhythms are spot on. Even the different sections flow in very nice such as the heavier bridge with some spots of dissonance. Great riffs, nice vocals and variety seem to come in abundance throughout “The Art of Sharing Lovers.” After the fumble in “The Collision” things once again pick up in “Trigger Happy Tarantula”
which features more enjoyable riffing and even a dominating hook. There is certainly more of a pop aspect incorporated here thanks to the slightly slower tempo and lack of screaming. The progressions in the chorus certainly hint towards this as they are played over the hooky vocal switch offs. Here the rotating vocals really take the spotlight as they perfectly fit the chorus and offer something a little different. Once again not the most original track, but things are convincingly solid in performance and presentation.
Another softer song comes out in “Eager Cannibals”
. Things are quite repetitive here and nothing really grabs the listener’s attention. One might assume they are trying to create a unique atmosphere with the softer sound but the result is dominantly boring, bland, and forgettable music. Just about the only thing worth mentioning about this one is the somewhat groovy bass line during the verse. Once more, an effort for attempting to break from the norm results in a failed attempt at a softer song and ends up screaming filler. “Stare at the Air”
successfully brings a much needed new atmosphere into play. It is definitely screaming pop with its progressions but still maintains a very sturdy hardcore edge. Overall the energy present here is outstanding and this certainly ends up as a nice sing-a-long with a different feel from plenty of the album. Its shorter length and typical structure actually help it accomplish that as it stays at a fairly constant tempo throughout. It certainly does a great deal to pull out the seemingly sluggish direction the end of the album was headed towards. Unfortunately, the closing song “Mechanical Heart”
attempts for a dramatic and grand ending. It has a bit of an awkward feel to it due to the atmosphere they are attempting to create. Its moderate tempo and just overall slower style don’t cut it at all for an ending. Things once more fall victim to the plague of being a rough listen when the slower tempo comes out. The guitar solo is decent but is a little too little too late as far as I’m concerned. Similar to the previous slower songs, the closing track ends up no different as it is fairly dull, sloppy in transition, and far too long. They seem to be calming putting listener’s to sleep as the album comes to a close. Personally, I would have rather been kicked in the balls or put into cardiac arrest but they really went the other way with that one and didn’t exactly end with ideal quality either.
The main problem with A Static Lullaby
is its inconsistency. It never fully establishes a pace or quality level. Sure it has its share of good songs, but unfortunately they are usually followed up by something on a much lower level. There is never really an extended stretch of quality songs save for the opening section of the record. The result of it is still an above average record, but one where the skip button will need to be put to use a few more times than it should. Still there are plenty of good ideas in place here but I’m not completely convinced the band is up to their full potential. They seem very successful in doing their faster paced, heavy, riff dominating songs. Unfortunately, when things slow down and they try to create more atmospheric pieces things end up sounding bland, forced, and just plain boring. Hopefully on the next record they will either keep up the intensity throughout or improve upon their softer tunes. As previously stated there is plenty of potential and there are great ideas in place here. While the group is not completely capitalizing or using them to the fullest extent, they still manage to create a fairly enjoyable record.
Final Rating: 3/5