|Tonight We Stand – ‘Redemption’ EP (Sliptrick Records)|
|Written by Jonni D|
|Wednesday, 15 February 2017 04:30|
As a genre, it seems that metalcore reached its burn out towards the end of the last decade. The boom that ensued after the release of Killswitch Engage’s monumental ‘Alive or Just Breathing’ led to a slew of copycat bands attempting to jump on the bandwagon. As with nü metal before it, metalcore became overly saturated by overly similar bands following a tired template of song writing. The bands that have emerged and survived in the time since the metalcore implosion have either developed their sound into something more expansive (Parkway Drive) or have reached a level of song writing that trumps the tropes of the genre (Bury Tomorrow).
When approaching the debut EP from Tonight We Stand (hailing from Venice, no less), there is a degree of trepidation; can this release, ‘Redemption’, prove to be one of the exceptions to the rule of the current state of metalcore, or just another name on the list of also rans?
The EP begins with the title track, an instrumental lead in, in which the band immediately trip themselves up by adhering to a tired trope; the stereotypical gentle piano intro has become common place among bands of this ilk, meaning that from the outset Tonight We Stand have aligned themselves with the homogenized sounding crop of metalcore bands currently in the scene. Insult is added to injury by the appearance of a garish organ that sounds like a program setting on a Casio keyboard. As the full band joins in, their influences become apparent; the lead guitar hints at a student of Synyster Gates, while the rhythms sound like they were lifted from Trivium’s ‘Ascendancy.’ It’s a functional if rather unnecessary introduction to the EP, which at least hints at the musical capability of the band.
‘Dear Downfall’ kicks off with another impressive lead guitar line, reminiscent of the 80’s inspired licks of Dan Jacobs from metalcore survivors, Atreyu. The harsh vocals of Andrea Franco make their first appearance early on, bearing a similar tone to the bark of Randy Blythe from Lamb of God, although lacking his versatility. The emergence of drummer Alessandro Murello’s clean vocals cements the main issue with this release as a whole; the band stick firmly to the formulaic blueprint that is modern metalcore, and in the end it’s to their detriment. The breakdowns appear exactly where you would predict, and the songs don’t deviate at all from the harsh verse/clean chorus dynamic that is typical of the genre. Such is the rigidity to the formula that there is no room for imagination or innovation from the band, which unfortunately takes away from the obvious proficiency of the players, particularly guitarists Ricardo Moretto and Filippo Danieli.
This lack of identity is evident in the difficulty in discerning between the riffs on ‘Dear Downfall’ and ‘Invisible Enemies from each other, and indeed from a multitude of other bands in the genre. The identikit nature of the songs’ structures and their musical components make it hard to invest much in them, and they leave little impact as each draws to a close. They avoid this issue somewhat on the final song, ‘Cross The Nile’, by incorporating a more traditionally heavy metal inspired riff with a wah solo as the song opens, but quickly fall into the same pitfalls as the previous tracks.
As alluded to before, the clean vocals are the most egregious inclusion on this EP. The chorus of ‘Dear Downfall’ causes the song to lose any momentum by the distractingly flat and off-key singing from Murello, not to mention the weakness of the level of the vocal mix. It’s a pervasive flaw throughout these songs, and if anything it only gets worse. The chorus to ‘Invisible Enemies’ is overly earnest in its delivery, with the insipid and saccharine tone only accentuating the incompetence of the vocal, while ‘Cross The Nile’ features a refrain that is repeated ad nauseam and sounds like a poor imitation of Tom Delonge, formerly of Blink 182. While the screamed vocals are effective, if not exceptional, they are marred by the singing that it must work in tandem with in order to adhere to the metalcore formula.
There is ample evidence on this EP to acknowledge that Tonight We Speak is a band of noteworthy technical ability, instrumentally at least. However, given the nadir-like situation of the genre, this material is simply not good enough; overly processed in its production, and suffocating under self-imposed limitations of what metalcore should sound like. Until this constrictive view of song writing is addressed, as well as the considerable problem with the vocals, Tonight We Stand are not likely to amount to much more than a drop in the ocean of this scene. Sadly, this is not the redemption that metalcore sorely required.
‘Redemption’ is out now.
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