Review Summary: Unsurprisingly, heavy metal's biggest gimmick band puts forth one of the fakest and most plastic releases in recent memory.
New Years Day are a band I've never really understood. In high school, I thought 2013's Victim to Villain
had some fun, rollicking energy, and I thought it would translate into a live show setting. I was wrong. Having seen the band twice on Warped Tour and several videos of other performances, I don't buy their shtick. Front woman Ashley Costello tells literally every
crowd that she thinks they're going to be her best crowd yet or the crowd full of the "weird" and crazy" people and so forth. It just comes across as very fake, and on their newest album Unbreakable
, the insincerity starts to seep its way into the music.
Let's single out the elephant in the room; Ash Costello is not
a very good singer. She has her moments, but often times, she sounds quite tired, strained and she doesn't have a lot of range. The lyrical content is also quite abysmal. A good chunk of this record is occupied by Costello's faux outrage feminist anthems, as if she hasn't exploited her own sex appeal before. The band's last album Malevolence
featured tracks like "Scream" that saw Costello try to lure the listener in with a seductive, promiscuous narrative and composition. Sure, she's a grown woman and she can do what she pleases, but it feels quite disingenuous to see snarky Butcher Babies-esque outrage from a vocalist whom many are drawn to solely for her looks and not her talents. It reminds me of country star Keith Urban, who spent the first 25 years of his career objectifying women to no end, only to drop a song like "Female" to try and shift the paradigm.
Opening cut "Come for Me" is carried by a lot
of artificially altered vocals from Costello. Not once do you find any fluid singing here. What you get instead is a layered vocal track, autotuned and drowned out with some really tedious production value. The instrumental work, meanwhile, sounds like it was stolen from a Motionless in White track, which is ironic when considering how notorious that band is for ripping off other groups. "MissUnderstood" is a pisspoor ploy to get on the radio, featuring some overly flushed out synth washes as Costello tries her hand at rapping. She does so again on "Shut Up." Hands down the worst
song this band has ever cut, "Shut Up" sees some third wave feminist outrage from Costello, who gives the listener a tongue lashing that would make Meghan Trainor look like the perfect wife after all.
"Skeletons" is one of few highlights on here. The hard rock and nu metal tendencies are much more earnest here, and the lyrics are quite clever. "Show me the skeletons in your closet," Costello proclaims, encouraging the listener to let their secrets hang out to dry. The imagery fits the composition and fits the band's aesthetic perfectly. However, this might be the only song on Unbreakable
that suits the New Years Day wheelhouse. "Done with You" sees Costello further aghast with the listener and "Sorry Not Sorry" sees the band further experimenting with a mishmash of poppier basslines and heavier instrumentals.
"Break My Body" is decent enough. Costello actually puts quite a bit of emotion into it vocally, even though the sex-deprived lyrics come out of nowhere after the scathing invective she put on display a few tracks earlier. Nonetheless, it's a fun song, so credit where it's due. "Nocturnal" can't forgive Ash's subpar vocals with its attempt at conjuring up a vintage New Years Day composition. "I Survived" closes out the album with more of the same, but Costello is too boring and unconvincing to give this listener anything to come back to. On that note. Unbreakable
reaches it curtain call.
This album is a mess. The third wave feminist anger drives you away, the few highlights are slim pickens and the rest of the album is just boring. There's nothing emotionally heavy here and save for a couple of decent tracks, nothing on this record earns more than one spin. You're not going to become invested in anything the band has put forth and you'll only any red meat if you're already a huge fan of the group. Unsurprisingly, heavy metal's biggest gimmick band puts forth one of the fakest and most plastic releases in recent memory.