Sunday, 11 November 2012

Review: Issues - Black Diamonds

 The amount of people I hear speaking across the world who firmly believe that metal and pop should be segregated like night and day is frankly unreal. We should be more open to varying tastes today and this clear barrier between style of music should not exist. You can't just not like a style of music because it's pop music, right? There's so much close-mindedness in the metal community that sometimes it's little wonder that many bands begin to sound the same and you're naturally drawn to those that think outside the box. The kind of band that would, say, take as big an influence from pop music as they would metal music when writing their songs. A band like Atlanta quintet Issues, made up of several former members of the awful Woe, Is Me finding new feet in the world of music, who are quite literally making us ask what the point of genres are.

 With nowhere to turn as a means to describe this band, the term "Rn'B metal" has been coined to sum up the band's mixture of crushing metallic breakdowns and viscous growling with soaring pop melodies and club friendly electronic backdrops. Many have already come to experience this with lead single King of Amarillo from debut EP Black Diamonds. As massive breakdowns awash with furiously bitter lyrics that point towards the music industry, twisted love-lives and even a dig at their former bandmates in Woe, Is Me (We might have a whole new Metallica/Megadeth type feud on our hands people!) this is clearly a band with a clear ability to make hard hitting metalcore on their hands. And within the backdrop of the song massive synthesized backdrops build up that sound completely unlike anything else that... most of Rise/Sumerian Records have managed so far. Most of all the synthesizers have their own identity and style that sounds fresh in the realms of pop and the electronic metalcore scene. And with a combination of rapid-fire DJ scratching and the powerfully glossy vocals of frontman Tyler Carter, the buildup in pop friendly tones becomes more and more apparent. It reaches the final conclusion as the song's mid-section fades into synth-infused actions as a sly Rn'B beat rises up and the electronic-led mid section sounds akin to something taken from Justin Timerlake's Justified before the seamless transition into a monolithic breakdown takes place. It's a performance that defies all songwriting logic and a breath of fresh air within the realms of pop and metal music.

 The rest of the EP continues in a similarly thrilling vain as The Worst of Them charges into action with the structure of a conventional Rn'B chart topper backed by a blasting of bulked up riffage from AJ Rebollo and the instant pulse of Princeton Ave's gripping hardcore chug-along. It's mid-section could well be in the charts and the emotion in Carter's melodic choruses is in terms of mainstream Rn'B singers at least of Jason Derülo quality. Yeah, I just appreciated a mainstream pop musician like that. Meanwhile Love Sex Riot sees the band in unafraid party-mode with big Rn'B rhythms while the massive dubstep poundings of Her Monologue shows the band completing the motion with the one musical moment that unites pop with metal music these days.

 Now, if you really do hate pop music and the idea of the charts is purely vomitory and subsequently hate the idea of such a union with metal coming together, I can't even try and make this album appeal to you but if it's a union that you'd be willing to see happen, you're unlikely to find any better source of pop/metal mixture than on Black Diamonds. Every breakdown pulses with rabid energy and every vocal is passed down with passionate emotion whether it's smoothly sung by Carter and Micheal Bohn's screams. And every work of pop friendly electronica is delivered with gleaming production of club-friendly coolness. With so many bands attempting to mix modern pop with brutal metal together, Issues have managed to make their pop mixture just as potent a force in their songwriting rather than a background gimmick. And it works really well. And in a world where so many people still believe that pop and metal should be segregated like night and day, Issues are on hand to prove so many wrong.

Issues' Black Diamonds is out on 13th November via Rise.

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