Woe, Is Me

Number[s]

Written by: BL on 24/02/2011 02:29:02

I've been bad with a few reviews missing from 2010, and for something like Woe, Is Me's debut album "Number(s)" I probably should have covered it a lot sooner. Nonetheless here it is now and boy am I going to have a awkward time explaining this one. First of all when I saw the band's formation I more or less had that meh face on, a band of a whopping seven dudes: keyboards, two vocalists and the usual (drummer, bassist and dual guitarists) and whats this? Signed to Rise Records' imprint label Velocity Records without playing a single damn show? What? How?! Aside from the demos which seemed a little unremarkable at the time, and featuring the drummer of the excellent but defunct (I only think of them like this now that they've broken up, great.) Of Machines, I didn't know anything about the band or understand how they were at where they were. Still, having now spun the record extensively, I'm starting to understand why Woe, Is Me has literally exploded within the scene.

On the surface, it's an almalgamation of a slew of currently popular genres in the scene, most of which will be pretty familiar to anyone who enjoys their super polished modern post-hardcore/metalcore. Its got the electronics and programming, the super thick dirty yet highly precise chugging guitars, the screams and enough singing to totally not stand out at all (I go through this bloated genre like flipping through a book). But having said that, at least to me, theres a few things that really do stand out against all odds. First of all I may as well begin with the obvious, lead clean vocalist Tyler Carter has some incredibly soulful pipes for a kid of that age. The guy has a slightly more whinier Jonny Craig about him and thats no easy feat - a silky defined tone with a certain flair that other clean vocalists in the genre seem to lack (check out the mid song interlude in "For The Likes Of You"). Another thing is that his style of singing has an almost RnB approach that, combined with the more melodic parts of the songs, just works and gets you singing along. Secondly although cynics among you might find the amount of breakdowns tiring and excessive, since even I do (because there's a fuckload of them here), the guitar work at least in the lead department is somewhat redeeming. Sure, its nothing of the caliber of stuff like Of Machines or (older) Oceana in terms of layering nor do they take most of the whole song, but they have a perfect floating quality that are more creative than you might initially give them credit for. Unconventional but tasteful tapped guitar melodies are abound throughout the album (most notably though in the polarising "(&) Delinquents" and "Hell, Or High Water") and are simple yet strangely complicated. They intersperse the admittedly more generic sounding heavy sections to create a constant sense of flowing transition and organic fluidity that have a maturity that other kids chugging away on their guitars and playing synth beats don't seem to understand when it comes to throwing a song together.

Before you guys get worried thinking I'm going to say this album is some kind of miracle, I have a ton of problems with the album too. For a start I do not care whatsoever for the utterly forgettable screaming, and as far as I'm concerned once thats out of the picture half of the breakdowns will disappear too shortly after. Second the reason the screams and the ridiculous number of breakdowns exist in the first place is that the band seems to have this mindset of trying to please the most kids in this scene as humanly possible - some kids want heavy stuff, some want another Emarosa, some want dubstep. One minute we will have a gorgeous section with Tyler singing away, lush guitar melodies, then all of a sudden a monster breakdown that is more jarring than clever. Sure, I enjoy stuff like this more for the sake of it being something I am just into, but from a professional standpoint I have to take exception. Lastly the album is ridiculously short, where the first track "On Veiled Men" is essentially a breakdown, the rest of the tracks barely hitting the four minute mark, and the last song "Desolate (The Conductor)" (what is it with this band and square brackets) while having some pure vocal delight with Tyler doing a duet with Jonny Craig (who appears twice on this album) to a backdrop of electronics in the first half, is over too quickly (with a breakdown too, no surprises there).

I must admit for a while I wasn't sure how to really grade this album since I actually enjoyed this album quite a lot yet I could feel a lot of flaws in it too. People will hate it if they hate this kind of music, but at the same time Woe, Is Me seems to have combined RnB, Post-hardcore, electronic-hardcore and a bit of metalcore in a way that clearly is taking them places. If you ask me personally, this band has what it takes to be something really, really damn special if they actually dropped the screaming almost entirely, cut the breakdowns, focus on Tyler's vocals alone then fleshed out the remaining parts to really take themselves to the next level. As it stands I'm just very curious to see where the band will go with their next album, and I can only hope that they start seeing their own potential.

7

Download: '(&) Deliquents', 'Mannequin Religion', 'Hell, Or High Water'
For the fans of: Emarosa, Jamie's Elsewhere, Of Machines, Attack Attack!
Listen: Myspace

31.08.2010
Rise Records/Velocity Records


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