Review Summary: New Demons. Less Suck.
I See Stars. in my eyes, has always been a one-trick pony, or at least a one-album pony. Aside from their, in my humble opinion, stellar debut album, I See Stars hasn’t been releasing the best material on their following albums. The End of the World Party was an absolute letdown and a trainwreck that, honestly, made me not want to listen to the proceeding album, Digital Renegade. Digital Renegade wasn’t as bad as The End of the World Party, and it definitely showed some level of songwriting development among the pretty-boy sextet (I’m looking at you, Electric Forest), but it wasn’t quite what I See Stars needed to stand out from being another generic Asking Alexandria-wannabe band. As a part of me has been holding on to hopes that I See Stars will release something as good as 3-D again, I reluctantly bought New Demons off the Google Play Store and came out very surprised.
I recommend listening to this album with a really good sound system packed with a kicking sub, because I See Constellations really knows how to take advantage of stereo panning and ball-shaking bass, as shown on the intro/soundtest “Initiation Sequence.” It doesn’t let up there, though. In fact, the electronics and production shown throughout this album are phenomenal and stay surprisingly consistent throughout. Gone are the days of random synth breaks that shatter the entire flow of a song (that’s a lie, they ARE there, but they don’t feel forced, and they work well with mostly every song that has one), extremely cheesy synth riffs, and anything relating to being the next Asking Alexandria. If anything, I See Stars took what they did right on Digital Renegade, and made it, in a sense, mature. I hate using the term “mature” in music, because good music doesn’t need to be mature (Blink-182 pre-self titled), but if you’re familiar with what I See Stars has released in the past, New Demons definitely is a huge improvement over anything they've done recently.
The first real song off the album, “Ten Thousand Feet” starts out with a Major Lazer-esque synth lead that jumps straight into open string chugging that we’re all so fond of, backed with screamer Zach Johnson. Zach himself has definitely grown to be one of my favorite screamers in the scene, with his br00tal lows and his surprisingly large vocal range standing out more than ever on New Demons. Behind this force of screams and Korg synths consist of the following in no particular order; a pair of guitars that do enough to keep your attention throughout the album with fancy trills, riffs, pinch harmonics, guitar solos, and fat breakdowns that will make your neighbourhood riot in no time, a bass guitar (maybe, it’s hidden in there somewhere, you just have to believe!), and a damn fine drummer. I’ve always found everyone in I See Stars to be good at what they do instrumentally since I first heard 3-D many moons ago, and this album isn’t any different than the preceding ones.
Of course, everyone knows I See Stars for their vocalist Devin Oliver, and his God-like shrilly girly voice, and is it more shrilly than ever on this album. I’m not meaning to talk bad about him though, in fact, I love his voice. I love his voice a lot more than I should, but he did a damn fine job this time around. His highs paired with Zach's screams make for a perfect counter-balance that will keep you relatively interested throughout the album, despite Devin having some shortcomings in a few songs.
I like to compare this album to The Devil Wears Prada and their release of their album Dead Throne, which was a HUGE step in the right direction for their careers as musicians. Dead Throne wasn’t without it’s faults, and neither is New Demons. Despite how creative and fun some of the songs can be, not everything will be perfect in I See Starsland for this album. Some choruses are awkward to listen to, or sound downright lazy, as well as one or two synth sections being substandard, but all these problems are mostly found on tracks 5 and 7, so steer clear of “Violent Bounce (People Like ¥øµ)” and “We’re Not in Kansas Anymore” and you have yourself a very enjoyable metalcore album that will feed your inner high schooler metalcore desires.
In the end, I See Stars’ New Demons proves to be an incredibly fun album that will have you going back for more, whether it’s for the catchy leads, vocals that only a castrato can reach, or the need to (head)bang. Despite a slightly rocky middle portion of the album, New Demons is a fantastic improvement over anything I See Stars has released in the past 3 years. I'm still hoping to see a new 3-D be released, but I know that is a pipe dream that will never happen... but, until then, I'll gladly say New Demons is a fantastic album that shouldn't be overlooked by naysayers.
Boris the Animal
Who Am I"
Ten Thousand Feet