Written by: PP on 05/10/2006 18:30:12

When Saosin released their debut EP "Translating The Name" to the unsuspecting public, they caused a storm of hundreds of thousands of fans to love the band to death like no other band has been before. Saosin's unique blend of post-hardcore, screamo and emo hit between the eyes on anyone who had ever followed the scenes and boosted the band into a legendary status within months with millions of Myspace listens, resulting into overloaded expectations of the bands long-delayed, ultra-hyped and more than eagerly awaited debut album that bore a tentative title of "Sound Raptors", later renamed into "Saosin".

When the name "Sound Raptors" first appeared in the rumours, it sounded like a sublime name for a Saosin album, as it perfectly describes how the band sounds like: Razorsharp guitars performing high scales at a speed with an incredibly high-pitched and -ranged vocalist singing exceptionally intelligent lyrics on top of one of the best drummers I've heard on a record to date, all complementing and contrasting one another at the same time. It was this sound that influenced the countless attempts of replica bands who never succeeded at the instrumental mastery Saosin showed on the EP, causing even the band themselves to admit they would never be able to top "Translating The Name EP".

On their self-titled debut, then, the band has almost entirely abandoned the "Sound Raptor" sound. No-one has ever doubted Beau & co's ability to write great songs, which is demonstrated on "Voices" and "It's Far Better To Learn". The problem is that these aren't Saosin songs. These are songs without the same characteristic identity of the astonishingly fast and technical drumming or the ultra-high voice of Anthony that uplifted the songs to the skies. Sure, Cove's range too allows his voice to reach higher than 99% of vocalists out there, but at the cost of sounding nasal as the highest notes in "Voices" adversely demonstrate. The old roughness mixed with unbeliavably perfect high notes just isn't there, and leaves you with an empty feeling of "come on guys, why do you settle with the average when you have the best in you".

It is ironic, then, that Saosin sounds the best on the two tracks that resemble "Translating The Name" songs the most. "Sleepers" has the much needed guitar pace and complexity most of the album is missing, and Cove opens the song with touching lyrical mastery "What happened to us all, did we sleep through it?" extending his voice like Anthony on the EP, taking better use of his great range than on any other track on the album. "Follow And Feel" similarly uses the interplay of complex guitar and phenomenal technical drumming to create a "Translating The Name" atmosphere, and finally when Cove breaks his voice in the chorus singing "SHE'S WATCHING MEEE, acutely from a distance, should I care?" reminding every Saosin fan of Anthony's famous "you were walking so peculiar like you had something to hide" line, I am sold. THIS is the direction I always wanted the band to evolve to, not towards the terrible "I Never Wanted To" ballad the band has included towards the end of the album. It is a mystery to me why the band insists on creating slower songs like "You're Not Alone" instead of focusing on the great ones such as the two aforementioned or "Come Close". These tracks put the rest of the album in such a sharp contrast that despite it all being top-notch and better than 99% of everything released this year, the tracks sound bland and washed-out instead.

Playing "Translating The Name EP" and "Saosin" in a row reveals why the above feeling arises in the first place. You don't need more than one listen of "I Never Wanted To" followed by "Lost Symphonies" to understand why the otherwise great songs sound so boring. One, the guitars aren't as speedy and complex as we're used to. Two, the drumming isn't nowhere near as phenomenal as on the EP, and finally three, there is no Anthony. Cove does a great job and is an amazing singer with an incredible range, but lets be honest here, there isn't anyone in the genre better than Anthony.

Throughout the review I've written that "these songs are great but they aren't great". To confuse you even more I'm going to state that Saosin have pulled together a far, far better debut album than I ever though possible with the current lineup. The songs are well-thought out (hey, after all they did take three years) and the lyrics are exemplary to other bands in the genre, and even the few ballads are better than anything Hawthorne Heights could write in ten years. Cove is the perfect replacement for anthony and Beau can still write mindblowing riffs that more often than not make your jaw drop to the floor. The point I'm trying to bring across here is that this is a fantastic album - as long as you haven't heard "Translating The Name EP" before and know the true potential the band is capable of. Nevertheless, this is without a doubt one the "must-buy" records of 2006.


Download: Sleepers, Follow And Feel, Come Close
For the fans of: Emery, Silverstein, Matchbook Romance, A Static Lullaby

Release date 26.09.2006

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