Review Summary: Invent, Animate reaffirm their position as front runners in a genre in need of rejuvenation.
With Northlane’s dramatic move away from their previous progressive metalcore sound, Texan act Invent, Animate have assumed position atop of the metalcore pyramid. “Everchanger”, Invent, Animate’s first full length feature exhibited a sound that more than lended itself to their Australian counterparts of old. There were however hints that this was merely the tip of iceberg and as the band became clearer as to what they were hoping to achieve with their sound. This idea was further reinforced with the late 2015 release of stellar single “Darkbloom” which featured the dreamy atmospherics prevalent in “Everchanger”, only married with a much more unique overall sound.
“Stillworld”, takes what Invent, Animate achieved previously and improves on it in almost every aspect. Vocally, there are still comparisons to be drawn between Ben English and the departed Northlane vocalist Adrian Fitipaldes. Stylistically there is not much difference between the two. He regularly interchanges between mid-range shouts and lower pitch guttural screams. English’s flexibility with these interchanges is ideal as Invent, Animate effortlessly segue between heavier, faster sections and more celestial, atmospheric sections. Clean vocals are used sparingly throughout and are used primarily to enhance the chorus sections. Where many bands cumulatively increase their reliance on clean vocals for melodic qualities, Invent, Animate achieve this instrumentally and the cleans are used as nothing more than an addition.
There is a marked improvement in the quality of musicianship on offer here also. As clarity has been gained as to how they wish to identify themselves, their songwriting has become more focused. Invent, Animate have mastered the art of syncopating their music to help build and slow ambient soundscapes. The hypnotic “Midnight Hymn” features some of their finest lead guitar work to date and drummer Trey Celaya displays some his more refined skills as he blastbeats his way through two separate sections as it builds up to a shattering breakdown at the song’s conclusion.
“Vacant” is another of “Stillworld’s” many highlights, particularly as it is during this song that the listener is treated to a slightly more diverse sound than what was previously associated with the band. The lead riffs parallel much closer to melodic hardcore than much of the rest of the album. Due to the musical stylings and the emotive lyrical content, “Vacant” is one of the more emotionally charged tracks on the album and is sure to be a huge hit for playing live as a band.
Perhaps the biggest improvement of all is in the production of "Stillworld". There is a balance to be struck in clean production without sounding fake and maintaining the raw qualities of their sound. The balance is met perfectly here as the rhythm sections retain their punch whilst allowing the ethereal leads of guitarist Keaton Goldwire to take centre stage.
As with many metalcore albums, the album suffers from a lack of diversity notwithstanding “Vacant” and the inclusion of instrumental “Solace”. For much of the 37 minute run time it is a non-stop assault. Consequently, it isn’t likely to bridge to fans of other genres of music. However, for fans of metalcore, here is the band Northlane should have become.