To Keep Me From Sinking



by cleary21 USER (16 Reviews)
July 11th, 2008 | 12 replies

Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Picture the hardcore genre as a pack of gum you have been chewing through for over a week. Things started out great, but now the flavor is gone and the pieces are strewn about. Means is just another bland piece in a boring pack, that all tastes the same.

I was unsure of how to being this review. I thought maybe I should begin with something of an indicator about how I felt towards the album about to be reviewed. So I decided to use the word tolerable. Tolerable. A word sadly becoming associated with more and more albums in the post-hardcore and hardcore genres as time goes by. This one, by melodic hardcore four piece ("Means" formerly "Means To an End) follows the band in their desperate efforts to find an identity, and as many hardcore fans have found out, is naught but tolerable.

Every aspect of the CD is nothing more than average, the instrumentation is generic and uninspired, the vocals are abysmal at best (for the most part), listen at a lower volume and you will swear there's no bass, and the rhythm section is nothing you have not heard before. Only the excellent chemistry that seems to emerge on the last 4 tracks saves this one from being a total pile of crap. You'll realize right from the get-go on the opener Awareness that this is another run of the mill post-hardcore album.

The song starts off with some "passionate" singing from the bands front-man, Aaron Friesen. The clean vocals don't sound that bad, as a matter of fact they actually border on good. However, Aaron's vocal range goes from good clean singing, to anguished yell to a heavy scream, which put simply is awful. The first thought that should, and most likely will pass through your head is, is this guy trying to scream, or is he undergoing some kind of operation un-sedated. The vocals improve however, but not by much. Even at their peak they still sound just like the multitudes of other hardcore vocalists out there. The first six tracks are just plain bad;the vocals are trash, the guitar is generic, there are a few breakdowns which lack any originality.

The first sign of anything positive comes on Somewhere Up Ahead towards the middle of the song where a heavy clean section with some decent screaming and audible bass sort of woke me up from the barrage of monotonous crap that I was sleeping under. After another solid guitar riff however, the earlier mentioned monotony began once again and continues until the real killer hits. Steadily a ballad, that lacks any sort of originality or passion is three minutes of pure s***. 0 emotion or effort is put into this song, as is plainly obvious in the first 30 seconds. However, after this ballad the next song We Dwell in Possibility picks up things a few notches. making things tolerable again.

Fortunately, like a phoenix rising from the ashes of the last two songs, Means really turns things on with Burned into Me . The music seems to become inspired,passionate and catchy. The vocals finally begin to blend with the song. The high quality continues all the way through the closer Of Dread and Dreams . The final four tracks show the band displaying undeniable chemistry, conviction, and passion. The lyrics, finally legible, are deep and thoughtful. Theses last tracks are without a doubt the best on the CD, and What We Seek is the best track on the album.

All told, the CD is a mixed bag of mostly poor, but blended with some very high quality material it is probably worth a pick up for the more serious fans of this stagnant genre. Had I written this review 6 months ago, it would probably be a 3 or maybe even a 3.5, but having heard as much of the wrong kinds of hardcore as I have I stuck with the 2.5, as it did not impress me until the very end. If you closed your eyes and listened you would be able to think of upwards of 5 bands who it might be. Casual fans, you will probably want to skip this one, unless you have the means to download the last 4 tracks separately.

The Clear Best
What We Seek
Burned Into Me
Of Dread and Dreams

The Clear Worst

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user ratings (52)

Comments:Add a Comment 
July 11th 2008


I thought the metaphor put the rest of the review into context. nice job.

July 11th 2008


sorry for the corny metaphor at the beginning I'm only just realizing how stupid it was.
If you realize it was a mistake, why not change it?
You could probably break that third paragraph into two paragraphs starting with "The first sign of anything positive...". You repeat yourself a little, but overall this isn't a bad review (it's just hard to write reviews about bands that are so one-dimensional).

July 11th 2008


Cool, it looks a lot better. Voted. I wasn't saying to change your summary, I was just asking why you wouldn't if you don't like it.

July 15th 2008


I counted 7 comments? Anyway nice review I pos'ed it.

July 15th 2008


Album Rating: 2.0

Nice review ... okey band .. they live like an hour from me and I know the lead screamer guy[ I think he sucks at screaming.. but hes an awesome guy! ] but the singer is pretty decent .. the guitars are nothing amazing there last cd by an inch

August 19th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

there old stuff was so much better, but this is still pretty good, the screaming is just terrible.

September 30th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Steadily is an amazing song!

September 9th 2009


They're album artwork is incredible, especially for Sending You Strength.

November 21st 2009


Nice review even if it is a little harsh...

I have this album in hard copy. It's average but really not that bad and the screaming dude's screams are actually pretty heavy.

November 21st 2009


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Grown on me so much, vocals fit so well.

Too bad they broke up, they were like hometown hereos, them and Nickelback :/.

January 6th 2011


Album Rating: 2.0

The screaming is so bad, apart from that I enjoyed it.

September 7th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0

The screaming isn't very good but once you get used to it, you have a pretty solid album. The singing is great.

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