Review Summary: Before Their Eyes have returned to the post-hardcore fore with a focused, mature record.
Before Their Eyes are an interesting part of the modern post-hardcore canon. Originally tied to Rise Records, they became a staple of the label after the release of their debut, self-titled album. Interestingly, frontman Nick Moore moved on to found his own record company, InVogue Records. After a significant period of inactivity, Before Their Eyes staged a comeback with their newest, partly crowdfunded record, Midwest Modesty
. The band, fit with original members, including Moore and founding drummer Jarrett Hottman, have created a deeper and more varied album than anything else they have released. This record is a great, albeit surprising, return for a band that have a special place in the heritage of post-hardcore music.
InVogue Records mainstay Nick Ingram and prominent Chiodos vocalist Craig Owens co-produced Midwest Modesty
. Ingram is prevalent in alternative music, although his production work on Dayseeker's Origin
and The Bad Chapter's debut, in my opinion, wielded mix results. This is not the case with Midwest Modesty
. The album's production work is spectacular. Hottman's drums are punchy. His bass drums and snare hits are crisp and rounded. Moore's vocals sound clean and powerful, and reverb and distortion effects heighten the experience. The mix is accordingly wonderful. Anthony Damschroder's bass is loud, and especially noticeable, for example, on the chorus of “We Destroyed All The Evidence” and the verse of “The Positive And The Negative Of Being Alone”. Unsurprisingly, the record's guitars sound slickly recorded.
The uncanny aspect of Midwest Modesty
is its wonderful variety in tracks. The album begins with a bleaker tone. The initial track is gloomy and symphonic “It's Dark Inside With You”, followed by the atmospheric “The Positive And The Negative Of Being Alone” and “How It Feels To Be Defeated”. The record progresses into straightforward, poppy, post-hardcore fare with “Midwest Modesty”, “Anything's Possible In New Jersey” and “We Destroyed All The Evidence”. The outliers are “We Won't Makes The Same Mistakes Again”, and especially “A Home With No Ceilings”,
which are slower, more indie rock sounding, and seemingly Hotel Books-inspired. These tracks coalesce to create a stimulating collection of differing songs.
Before Their Eyes' lack of new ideas and real progression does hold back Midwest Modesty
. This is not to say that the album does not have any interesting sections. There are certain
parts of the album which are truly unique. The group vocal hymning of “The Positive And Negative Of Being Alone”, the wonderful, hopping bridge of “We Won't Makes The Same Mistakes Again”, the opening riffs of “Adam Was A Cool Dude”, and “It's Dark Inside With You”'s symphonics are refreshing. Midwest Modesty
often does fall back into the motions, however. Sections like the strange screaming breakdowns of “Anything's Possible In New Jersey”, the plain verses of “Adam Was A Cool Dude” and the meandering chorus of “How It Feels To Be Defeated” are not as thrilling as other parts of the record. I commend Before Their Eyes for making Midwest Modesty
the most daring record of their career. Nevertheless, it could have been truly remarkable had they progressed their sound even further.
This is not to say that Midwest Modesty
's individual performances are poor. They are, in fact, consistently great. Hottman's drums are spectacular at times, especially on “The Positive And Negative Of Being Alone”, and simply solid on songs like “Midwest Modesty”. The album's guitars are terrific, too. They have a consistently dark tone throughout the album. “A Home With No Ceilings” has a pleasant repeating riff and some interesting atmospheric chords in its second chorus. “We Won't Make The Same Mistakes Again”'s bridge has a great, infectious riff. And the quick, thumping picking throughout “Adam Was A Cool Dude” is memorable. Damschroder's bass shines as well. It completely dominates “How It Feels To Be Defeated”, for example, and allots Midwest Modesty
's tracks a dark, deep and foreboding atmosphere.
Nick Moore's vocals are at the forefront of Midwest Modesty
, and he does not disappoint. His lyric tenor voice is incredibly elastic, and his belts often stretch deep into the fifth octave. His youthful, bright timbre and powerful falsetto are audibly pleasurable. Moore's voice most blatantly shines during the album's borderline scream-like belts. The final section of “How It Feels To Be Defeated” and the choruses of “It's Dark Inside With You” feature some powerhouse highs. Additionally, “Anything's Possible In New Jersey” choruses, and “We Destroyed All The Evidence”'s pre-choruses contain some beautiful falsetto sections. Moore's softer vocals are wonderful too. His hymning on “The Positive And The Negative Of Being Alone” and softer, beautiful melodies on “We Won't Make The Same Mistakes Again”'s bridge are terrific in this regard. Midwest Modesty
's screams are rare and nicely nuanced. When they actually appear in “Anything's Possible In New Jersey” and “It's Dark Inside With You”, they provide some needed variety to Moore's light cleans.
Before Their Eyes have seemingly exceeded expectations. Midwest Modesty
is undoubtedly the band's best album so far. Its more progressive, atmospheric and dark tone make the record composed, haunting and mature. Midwest Modesty
released almost two years after its initial crowdfunding campaign, and Before Their Eyes have not disappointed. This is a great record for long time Before Their Eyes fans and newcomers to the post-hardcore genre.