When people bring up the subject of Jesse Leach, most people will remember him for his work on Killswitch Engage and anything post Alive or Just Breathing. Seemless and, more recently, The Empire Shall Fall are what people discuss and listen to these days but any work of his before Killswitch Engage is completely negated. It's a shame really as before KSE he produced some work that is really not bad at all such as this little five-track EP, the eponymous Nothing Stays Gold.
It should be noted that this is a time when Jesse Leach was in a transition period between Corrin and Killswitch Engage. Many elements within the songs feel very tentative and inconsistent. The inconsistency manifests itself within bi-polar song structures that alternate between acoustic and electric guitars backing up Jesse Leach's vocals. A similarly bi-polar instrument, his voice alternates between mournfal cleans to raging screams. It is the lifeline that at points such as in the first transition between acoustic to electric on Within holds the shaky guitar work together.
The guitar work suffers from being flimsy and unoriginal. The acoustic guitar work is the worst out of the two. It suffers from being bland and unexpressive with repeated chords that fade into obscurity in its ill placement. The only time it has any effect is in a short twenty second section of Within where its seemingly listless plucked chords create a feeling of psychedelic loneliness. The electric guitar work fairs better, its speed providing a level of aggression as seen within Lethal and Nation in Distress. Some flair is shown by both the guitarists with guitar solos that increase the aggression. However it suffers from both unoriginality and flimsiness. Riffs are ripped straight from Rage Against the Machine's Killing In The Name Of... and the guitars rely too heavily upon the bass and drums to create the aggression. This is not even counting the bad placement.
This is possibly the greatest fault of the album, the awkward placement and transition between acoustic and electric causes song structures to shake and crack. It causes this EP to dwell in its own solipsistic hole, searching for its own identity within its songs. Is a song an acoustic ballad? Or is it a an electric guitar thrash-fest? With the longest song clocking in at just over four minutes there is really not enough time to decide. Perhaps then it was the band's intention to create a bi-polar album filled with insecurity and loathing? The lyrics in their mix of Orwellian paranoia and rage are a near definite confirmation of this. It's also true that at moments this intention works very well with a small section from Vow of Silence where the double-tracked vocals of Jesse's cleans and screams signify a unification of both feelings that project it out against the government. However it's a very dangerous musical path that the band treads as the dissonance between the two types of guitar could cause this EP to tear out it's own core and a couple of occasions it nearly does if not for the bass and the drums.
These two instruments are the reason why this EP recieves its rating. Along with the vocals the drums and the bass keep the songs together even when Jesse Leach can't. The bass and the drums are the organs and muscles to the brittle skeleton of the EP. The bass is the heart, blood and muscles, it's deep reverberations adding much needed weight and aggression to the guitarwork. In most metal bands that is how far it would extend or it would be buried behind the guitarwork. However here in its deep, menacing tones it not only stands tall on its own, it even overtakes the guitarwork in terms of complexicity. Some of the basslines maybe rip-offs of some of Tim Commerford's work but it never lets up in terms of aggression and power. Similarly the drums, the lungs of the EP, pound life through the body. The rhythms are just as unoriginal and a little less interesting than the basslines but they are solid. The drummer shows skill as they quick change from powerful blasts in the opening of Lethal to the taps of cymbles in Within as the acoustic guitar plucks onwards. The drum are nearly always there, bolstering the other instruments and keeping them on the money, all the time.
Overall this is a solid effort. It benefits from the pushing of instruments to the fore that normally would have been left to gather dust. However not even Jesse Leach's vocals can help it achieve its ambition. It in the end falls short because of the song structures and the unbalanced instruments of guitars against vocals, bass and drums. It is because of these it lacks an identity for itself in its confusion and it needed that identity to reach its ambition.