Review Summary: A refusal to add any sort of growth to their music has resulted in the creation of an album that is bland at its best and downright pathetic at its worst.
I first saw A Skylit Drive opening for Silverstein and Chiodos right at the time that Wires and the Concept of Breathing was coming out and their show really impressed me. I thought they were engaging and the vocals impressed me just because Michael “Jag” Jagmin can hit notes that almost no one can. Quite a few people have downed the band because the vocals are so high pitched but I found this to be intriguing and wanted to hear how he sounded on the album. And I found Wires… to be a great blend of impressive (high pitched, yes, but impressive) vocals, well placed breakdowns, fun, sing-along choruses, and very talented drumming. Adelphia wasn’t as good but still carried a lot of the same aforementioned features with it. The problem was there, however… Anyone that knows music could see it: ASD had a big problem with progression. And here we are now with Identity on Fire, one of the biggest let downs for me this year as well as one of the worst albums in the whole genre.
Right from the get-go you see an already-too-familiar intro that seems to be a direct rip-off of the intros from the last two albums and just as you’re prepared to forgive them for their lack of creativity you get segued in to the song (and single) Too Little Too Late. The chorus is catchy enough to be passable but you already can feel the lack of effort and an extreme amount of laziness. The writing is uninspired and the music is just repetitive and uninteresting. The whole album can be understood by listening to the first 30 seconds of every song and pressing “skip” on your ITunes library.
The absolute worst thing about this album is the awful writing that is displayed. I subjected myself to a hard facepalm when I listened to the opening of The Cali Buds (“What is friendship" This is friendship. This is for my friends. This is for my Cali buds.”) or maybe the melodramatic rebellion displayed in F*ck the System (“The world is not in your hands. F*ck the system! ... This is for my brothers and sisters. This is for the misguided and alone.”). I was starting to wonder if ASD paid some 12-year-old kid with a bad case of pubescent teenage angst to write the lyrics for their songs. It was most depressing because of the fact that they usually have respectable writing on their albums. I kept getting the feeling that they were under pressure from their label for a new release so they just rushed through the whole writing process without ever stopping and asking themselves if what they were writing was even any good.
As boring and as uninspired as this album is, it’s not without its bright spots. XO Skeleton features a catchy, fun chorus that’ll get stuck in your head for a while. It’s still accompanied by bland musicianship but it’s a song you can still tap your foot to. I also really enjoyed the title track Identity on Fire which has a sort of frantic sing/scream/talk overlap followed by a classic Jag vocal soar that brought me back to the reason why I even still listen to this band. But for every great minute this album has, there are about five minutes of boring, repetitive junk that makes you shake your head for what could have been.
Identity on Fire
You can go ahead and skip everything else.
Additional Note: Even the bands performance is suffering. I’ve seen them several times over the last three years and the past 3 or 4 performances Jag’s voice kept breaking when he hit his higher notes. The guitars have had too much feedback and the whole “showmanship” of the band has taken a sharp turn in to the “unenthusiastic” category. It feels as though they don’t really enjoy what they’re doing anymore. One can only hope that they either get a big reality check or just call it quits and move on to something they enjoy more.