Review Summary: Stripping away their callous and abstract approach to metal and its subgenres, iwrestledabearonce arise as a more mature, but ultimately more forgettable band.
Confession time—I’ve always enjoyed a good bit of iwrestledabearonce, and their quirky approach to music. The feeling that they really don’t care about what the metal scene thinks of them is genuine, allowing them to burst out of their respective genre and experiment with a multitude of different sounds. Still, the entire existence of the band actually feels like a big joke. A female screamer and techno overtones make up a large portion of the band’s sound, something that needless to say has creates a large divide between those who’ve heard them. Their debut, It’s All Happening
, displayed this well, as electronics and metal intermingled with the solid “core” foundation. It was odd, spastic, and fun, with enough catchiness to float them, as well as make them at least “charming.” Well, two years and an EP later, the charm is starting to fade, and the joke, well it really isn’t that funny anymore.
When interviews started to float around that iwrestledabearonce were writing more cohesive, well thought out songs, I knew something was amiss. Sure, It’s All Happening
was far too unhinged for its own good, but that was part of the amiability of the whole thing. It was unpredictable and maddeningly spontaneous. Their sophomore effort, Ruining It For Everybody
seems tame in comparison, and it feels as if the band have matured. Flourishes of silliness are still there, but the whole package doesn’t feel as unabashedly weird, just oddly and unnecessarily chaotic.
That being said, iwrestledabearonce’s maturation goes a long way in establishing the band as an actual band, rather than a gimmick. However, it’s so misguided and bizarre, that the maturation actually acts as a deterrent. Breakdowns are aplenty in Ruining It For Everybody
, enough so that it honestly detracts from the flow of the album. This is all intermittent with twinkly and twitchy interludes in which Krysta lends her clean vocals. Her vocals have always been, well let’s just say, an important part of the band’s sound and image. Krysta takes a very unique approach to vocal delivery, in that she utilizes a very deep, throaty scream. Apparently people *** bricks when females sing in this manner, because the band have pretty much become a household name because of them, being dubbed as “that band with the female screamer.”
However, Krysta, like the rest of the group, has actually grown as a musician. She’s tightened her screams up, and her cleans have come a long way, sounding pretty damn great on their own merit. As stated previously, there are still a confounding amount of breakdowns, but there’s been quite a bit more added to the mix. Weird guitar segments give way to more conventional instrumentation, and it sounds pretty excellent. This musical growth sadly takes a backseat to the fact that iwrestledabearonce really didn’t put it to good use. Songwriting just doesn’t come naturally to the band, a fact that becomes known when one listen’s to the incredibly homogenous track list. The breakdown, cleans, and techno formula becomes less of a method of song structure than a crutch. Sure there are some fantastic pieces to be had, with songs like “Karate Nipples” and “Deodorant Can’t Fix Ugly” standing out, but as a whole every song just bleeds together.
It seems odd that a band’s maturation could be its Achilles Heel, and that a growth in musicianship could actually be a rather forgettable move. This seems to be the case with iwrestledabearonce and their latest. Ruining It For Everybody
, once you strip away the callously unabashed silliness, is just another quirky, misguided “core” effort. It’s not outwardly bad, just disappointingly average and forgettable. And for a band like iwrestledabearonce, being forgettable says quite a lot.