Review Summary: Alesana debuts painfully.
I have a huge man-crush on Alesana. I seem to be the only regular user on this website who actually enjoys their music as much as I do. Their LP, On Frail Wings of Vanity and Wax, I rated a 4.5 and I listen to regularly. This review is of the preceding EP, Try This With You Eyes Closed. Now that I’ve got that disclaimer out of the way, I can begin my review.
Alesana is a 6-piece post-hardcore outfit from Raleigh, North Carolina. One of the main draws of this band is the fact that they have 3 vocalists. Dennis Lee is the lead vocalist, constantly unleashing guit-wrenching screams. He sometimes gets help from guitarist and backup vocalist Adam Ferguson; however, the vocals sound exactly the same. The third vocalist is Shawn Milke, who sings and unleashes high pitched screams and wails across the album. Normally, having two vocalists (I’m combining Lee and Ferguson because they are indistinguishable) is a positive thing. The difference in tone and sound helps the tracks sound more fresh and engaging. Well, on this album it’s not a positive thing. Dennis Lee takes a pretty good post-hardcore EP and vomits all over it, destroying, to some extent, everything his voice touches.
“Apology” is the first track on the EP, and it can be found on the later release, “On Frail Wings of Vanity and Wax”. This version is identical to that version. The track starts peacefully with Milke’s soothing, high-pitched vocals and clean guitar behind it. 43 seconds in is the first time we get to hear Lee’s vocals, and it’s unfortunate for all of us that he does. While Milke’s screams can be equally annoying, he makes up for it with his singing ability. Lee does nothing but spout out vomit worthy screams that take away from every track they used on, which is all the but the last track. The following track, “Endings Without Stories”, is the worst track on the whole LP. Milke is merely average, at best, while Lee is as pitiful as usual.
The other tracks are basically more of the same, ranging from mediocre to strong performances from Milke, and from abysmal to atrocious from Lee. “Congratulations, I Hate You” is the best track on the EP; however, it is also on the following LP mentioned before, albeit in a different version. I prefer this version to the “On Frail Wings of Vanity and Wax” version. Milke shines on this track, luckily having more vocal parts than usual. The last track, Early Mourning, is Lee-less! That can only be a good thing, right" Well, sure, this track is more pleasant than the others. Unfortunately, Milke’s worst vocals of the whole EP can be found here. He seems to be constantly off-pitch, and his tone wavers and falters to sadly ridiculous levels. As much as I liked the chorus, the verse was so out of tune and painful to listen to that it ruins the entire track. The piano in the background is nice, but Milke’s vocals take away from everything that this track could have been.
You may have noticed that I didn’t talk about the guitars, bass, or drums at all. Well, that’s because they are nothing at all interesting. The drums are generic and overplayed, with the general double-kick fare that most metalcore fans will be used to hearing. The guitars, despite there being three different parts, are painfully simplistic and repetitive throughout the entire EP. The bass, while supposedly there, is completely inaudible.
Alesana improved leaps in bounds on their following release, but that doesn’t redeem this one of all its faults. While some portions are fun to listen to, and Milke’s voice is a positive, nothing else about this album can really be worthy of mention or praise at all. Stay away from this unless you really like Alesana.
Dennis Lee - Vocals
Shawn Milke - Vocals/Guitar/Piano
Patrick Thompson - Guitar
Adam Ferguson - Guitar/Vocals
Steven Tomany - Bass
Daniel Magnuson - Drums