Review Summary: Unsettled
Getting through this record was extremely tough for me. There were moments I cringed hard enough to nearly implode. Makes sense that this post-hardcore/screamo/pop punk mashup of a band invited Shane Told to do some guest vocals. Silverstein is a clear influence, at least from what I remember of them. (And no, I did not go back and reference) This mashup of styles is not as easily identified during the first two tracks of this record. Instead Capstan comes right out of the gate with cookie-cutter metal-core. The opening song sounds lifted right of off Bring Me The Horizon’s, “Sempiternal”. Track 2 is extremely hard to listen to with a painfully saccharine delivery that absolutely destroys any vestige of lyrical interest. Not a good start.
The real reason I was so curious to check out this release was not because of the band at all. Honestly, it was because of Machine. The producer has been at the controls of many a fantastic record, and I was pleased to hear that he still has the ability to craft a recording that really WANTS to be turned up. Some interesting drum edits are heard in the first track, and it’s clear that he doesn’t want you to miss his additions. Machine’s work is impossible to ignore, and while it seems a bit heavy-handed on this record, it fits the band. Glitch edits, interesting uses of reverbs, delays and atmosphere are like sprinkles on top of a pretty messy cupcake. While “blurred around the edges” can make one pucker violently, Machine’s sound design and production flourishes are a welcome inclusion.
Listening through I couldn’t help referring back to the album title. I’m certainly not sure what they were inferring or referencing, or trying to say, but I came up with a theory of my own. When you get through the banal metal-core of the first two tracks, “take my breath away // noose” happens, and there is a clear separation of style. While the track starts with a bored sounding vocalist and absolutely terrible lyrics, the song sounds completely divergent. It’s commendable these guys can be somewhat diverse, right? Bad analogies and speedball aside, the chorus is about as catchy as they come, if you like this kind of stuff. And I don’t really understand why she is eating the heart, but I guess it’s less generic than breaking it? Who knows…
The track with Shane Told is underwhelming, and that is being kind. Capstan’s Anthony DeMario does his best Jon Mess impression, and Shane does his best Shane. The music is taken right from the modern metal-core playbook. I can rattle off 10 bands doing the exact same things. But then “blurred around the edges” begins and now I’m really wanting to write this band a prescription for lithium. DeMario shouts and emotes over a rock ballad with a neat, albeit strange, sax solo included. It's a complete departure. Then we plummet right back into metal-core tedium. The single “abandon” is worthy of note. The chorus begins with a monster riff accompanied by a hollering DeMario, and then is anchored by an Oliver Sykes-esque hook. They then flip those parts on the final chorus and it makes for a nice head banging end. Clever songwriting tricks are always appreciated. There are moments like this that just can’t be ignored, whether strangely good or terribly bad. “shattered glass” has a key change that is really awesome, but tread lightly because the abomination of a song that follows will ruin your day.
I had no idea what I was getting into with this album. This record is absolutely unhinged, and not in a good way. It’s bipolar. I’m not big on popping pills for every little thing, but this seems to be needing a licensed professional. It’s as if the generic metal-core and the even more generic pop-rock inherent in this band are locked in an age old civil war, struggling for dominance. Unfortunately, the separation of these two different styles doesn’t make the whole any better for it’s halves. The separation just makes things messy, and really awkward.
I think it would be nice to be known for trying to find the good in almost everything, so with that said, at least these guys do what they do in a very confident way.