Review Summary: It is a cover album, If you like both Evergreen Terrace and the originals, check it out. If not, then this isn't for you.
Cover albums are a tricky thing. Stick too close to the original and you end up being called out for “not putting your own stamp on it,” the “Between The Buried and Me syndrome”. However, on the other side of the coin is deviating too much and making it almost indistinguishable from the original song, along the lines of Black Dahlia Murder’s rendition of “Paint It Black.” It becomes a very fine line you have to be able to toe to end up with a successful cover song. Now, Evergreen Terrace absolutely loves playing cover songs. They threw in a cover of “Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode on Burned Alive By Time
and put up a cover of “Everlong” on their Myspace. The thing about these covers are the fact that you can recognize what songs they are and somehow Evergreen Terrace can still put their signature sound on it and make it their own. With Writer’s Block
we get to see how well they do those covers and we also see a little bit into their influences.
Your enjoyment of Writer’s Block
is completely and utterly dependent on how much you enjoy the songs being covered. You can love Evergreen Terrace but hate “Zero” by The Smashing Pumpkins and therefore you won’t like the cover. Evergreen Terrace is apt at capturing the fun in their covers, and as a result the covers are very enjoyable. There is a feeling that they aren’t taking themselves too seriously and are just having fun in their basement. They are more the able when it comes to their instrumentals and the singing and screaming are well done. Craig Chaney’s cleans have always been a highlight on their albums, and his distinct gravelly voice serves the album well. On top of that, Andrew Carey’s screams are tastefully done, always seemingly in the background and not overtaking the essence of the songs.
The highlight songs here are “Plowed”(originally by Sponge), “Stars” (Hum), and “Mad World” (Tears For Fears). The last two in particular show off their hardcore chops, with “Stars” having a breakdown which actually elevates the cover and “Mad World” giving off some venom in the chorus. The best portion of the album, however, is the hidden “track” after their only original song “Brave Reality.” It is basically the guys messing around and playing a little bit of “Bodies” by Drowning Pool, “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison, and, of all things, the Spongebob Squarepants theme song. It is easily the goofiest and most laid back part of the album, and it makes you wish you were in their basement while they were screwing around.
The negatives here are that it is a cover album, and as such you either love or hate the original songs regardless of who is playing them. As previously stated, you can love Evergreen Terrace but hate the original, so the cover does nothing for you. The other big problem with this album is that the production is terrible. The album was literally recorded in a basement so every song has a restrictive feel to it, like the band is being held back. The album would be more than a few notches higher if the production wasn’t such garbage.
All in all, Writer’s Block
ends up being just what was intended, an unpretentious fun collection of songs Evergreen Terrace loves. No more, no less. The fundamental problem with covers is always present, your opinion of the original songs. If you love Evergreen Terrace, then look at the track listing and see if you like the songs enough to check it out. This album will not change anyone’s life and it probably isn’t even worth buying. It is, however, a ton of fun and enough to download a few songs.