Review Summary: is this what you wanted?A Modern Tragedy, Vol. 2
continues to delve further into the realm of dark electronics mixed with alternative guitar tones and semi-harsh rapped/sung vocals. With Part Two, however, Jordan Edward Benjamin experiments more with heavier guitar work and dubstep-tinged choruses, insinuating a concoction of strange elements blending together, yet not nearly as consistently as his debut.
Opening with the first and only single of the EP, “Apologize” emphasizes the importance of grandson’s progression maintaining the alt-rock stylings of Vol. 1
while keeping the use of electronics to a surprising minimum, limiting the effects to only extra manufactured drums to compliment the beat and melodic synths to enhance the harmonies. However, this anomaly of natural instrumentation is soon lost, as the latter part of Vol. 2
relies heavily on the use of electronics and dubstep-beats to amplify the tone. “Stigmata” introduces the heavier side of grandson with a borderline nu-metal-esque riff, erupting into an amalgamation of loud strings and bouncy electronic synths. Sadly, the fault lies in the similarity of Korn’s The Path of Totality
where the song could have held an element of genuine musicianship, yet instead opted for dubstep saturation. The proceeding songs hold much of the same standard, yet further delving into the intricacies of electronica, leaving the songs feeling shallow and generic compared to grandson’s debut. “Fallin (Temptation)” elaborates on this development of mainstream appeal and generic-styling as Benjamin raps almost void of emotion throughout the verses accompanied by a half-hearted effort at a chorus, with a lack of instrument cohesiveness to integrate it all together. Furthermore, “Darkside” and “Is This What You Wanted” take the reins of the darker approaches of the album, utilizing melancholic atmosphere throughout the duration of the songs, with grittier haunting vocals from Benjamin, yet continue to fall into the same trap of relying too much upon the use of dubstep electronics to appease the masses, ruining the dark flow of the tracks.
However, one cannot simply neglect the positive aspects of the EP. In a similar manner as Vol. 1
, Benjamin continues with the same ambitious lyrical standpoint, not withholding his drive to discuss topics of depression, shallowness, and the hidden psychological horrors resulting from violence. At the other end of the spectrum, there are some true moments of genuinely cohesive musicianship, bringing forth some of grandson’s heaviest and gloomiest instrumentation to date. The guitar work in “Stigmata” remains a highlight of the album (despite its lack of ability to erupt into its full potential) and the concluding moments of “Is This What You Wanted” displays the musicians’ ability to create a controlled chaotic ambiance while maintaining the darker undertone. Even the opening single “Apologize” showcases grandson’s dexterity to create a track of pure musicianship without the need for an oversaturation of excessive electronics.
Regardless, A Modern Tragedy, Vol. 2
expresses grandson’s talent to produce enjoyable tracks, yet once more emphasizes on their fault of heavy reliance on electronica and synths that ultimately hinder the full effect of each track. Although the progression to a darker, heavier tone does provide a sliver of hope in regards to the band’s future, the EP still leaves much to be desired with a lack of focus on how to develop instrumentation while pushing that focus towards the unnecessary additions of manufactured effects.