The Trouble With Angels

Written by: PP on 30/11/2010 03:30:38

Two years ago Filter blew my mind with their masterpiece of a record called "Anthems For The Damned", which cemented their vocalist Richard Patrick as one of the best vocalists in alternative rock once and for all, as if their 90s classics like "Title Of Record" et al didn't already ensure that in the first place. It was a record that saw the band move further away from their industrial rock roots into a stricter alternative rock sound with hints of the much loved 90s sound of bands like Foo Fighters and Vertical Horizon. But more than anything it was a display of the magnificent pipes of Patrick and what he can do with those prolonged wails of his. Wails, which unfortunately have been redacted to a less impressive level here on their new album "The Trouble With Angels" thanks to some questionable song-writing decisions.

You see, Filter has all but reversed their evolution here. Not directly back into industrial rock/metal combo, but for God knows what reason, they've shifted the direction of their ship towards a Linkin Park style early to mid 2000s nu metal format. In fact, there's a ton of material here that I could easily mistake to be on "Meteora", especially because Richard Patrick has abandoned his soundscape-filling croon in favour of soundling like a rougher version of Chester Bennington. His vocal melodies can still be extremely catchy as seen on "Drug Boy" and "Absentee Father", but when the rest of the band is reduced to simple nu-metal riffing and pseudo-heavy distortion, one's left wondering what happened to the artistic ambition that was so well realized on the album just two years ago? The songs are hard-hitting and more accessible here, sure, but they aren't nearly as rewarding as the likes of "Soldiers Of Misfortune" or "Cold" from the previous album. Those were songs that, upon several repeat-listening sessions, would leave the listener standing in awe over just how good Patrick is singing in the start, before their attention would move onto the small details and finesse used by the instrumentals to create such mammoth-sized soundscapes without sounding at all inflated. Here, the latter is not a problem of course, but the songs just don't sound as exciting and, though I despise the word in connection with most musical things - epic as before.

"No Love", for instance, is an ultra-simplistic power-chord based track with a sweeping chorus straight off the older Linkin Park playbook. Just listen to the sweeping power-chorus and how poppy and accessible it has been crafted in order to appease the radios from six or seven years ago. The only problem is that we're one month off from 2011 today. I guess on some level you could argue that these songs are almost identical to those on "Title Of Record", in fact I've seen some reviews calling this album "Title Of Record 2", but I don't remember Filter ripping off from Linkin Park back in the 90s (or rather, Linkin Park ripping off that record) to the same extent as they do here.

That said, there are a couple of examples of the great experimental approach to alternative rock we're used to hearing from this band. The emotive opening to "No Re-Entry" sounds entirely belieavable as Patrick quietly croons his way through the song, and the near-screaming vocals work perfectly in a quiet and slow song such as this one. Overall though I'm not that impressed. There's a number of good tracks here but they lack longevity and are easily forgettable. I guess I'm making it sound way worse than it actually is, but in comparison to the record two years ago, this one just doesn't compute a grade result anywhere in the vicinity.

Download: Drug Boy, Absentee Father, No Re-Entry
For the fans of: Linkin Park on "Meteora"
Listen: Myspace

Release date 17.08.2010
Rocket Science Ventures / Nuclear Blast

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