Design The Skyline


Written by: AP on 19/11/2011 15:56:01

Someone at the A&R department of Victory Records must have had a brain haemorrhage this year, signing undoubtedly the four worst bands in the label's history. Who could forget the now-infamous music video for "Surrounded by Silence", the song that earned Design the Skyline a reputation as the laughing stock of metal, and the label an unprecedented amount of criticism for inking a deal with them based on the video. As a countermeasure to what the label clearly saw was growing dissent and bafflement because of the signing, Victory quickly announced that Design the Skyline's debut album had been assigned top priority in the label's release schedule, and assured us there was more to the story than the depressing shitfest of "Surrounded by Silence". Even so the sentiment that it was going to be extraordinarily awful did not fade out.

Fortunately another recent addition to the Victory family set the bar pretty low with their own debut album, cementing it without much argument as the worst album this year, so that at the very least Design the Skyline would be spared the shame and have their own album land at only the second worst no matter what. It is titled "Nevaeh", which is heaven backwards in case you didn't know, and against all odds it is a vast improvement on "Surrounded by Silence". But then again, a vast improvement is not terribly informative in this context, as even the scientific attempt at creating the most annoying song ever three years ago is more coherent and listenable than that song. But nothing on "Nevaeh" is quite as abysmal.

It is a haphazard mish mash of all things popular in the scene at the moment, with left foot in deathcore, right foot in electronically enhanced post-hardcore, and middle foot in a Hot Topic groupie's mouth. As such, it incorporates shallow multilayered growls and the occasional dumbed down death metal riff into a teenage friendly palette of excessive autotune and synth melodies, of which "Crystal Swords Kill the Hordes" and "Cybernetic Strawflower" are prime examples. At their most unexpected and best, the band offers vaguely memorable stuff à la "Reality Away" and "Destroyer", both of which sound just as average as the output of bands like Attack Attack!, and never as horrific as one would expect.

Having said that, however, it would be a mistake not to mention that beyond momentary bouts of decent musicianship on part of guitarists Matt Ryan and Julian Reckless (yes, really), the music of Design the Skyline is still at a loss for passion, attitude and edge, making it little more than a cynical means to an end, the end being Victory's desire to make money. Because scrutiny is not, as we know, a common trait in a scene where image comes first, br00tality second, and genuinity gets injured somewhere along the way and never finishes the race. Lead single "Break Free From Your Life" is a depressing reminder of this, as is "Witch of the Woods", which despite every effort to make it so through massive production, sounds neither heavy nor brutal.

In thinking how to best explain what is moderately good and what is not on "Nevaeh", it struck me that the two intermezzos, "Reverie" and "Free for Infinity" are the perfect metaphor. One is an entirely instrumental, jazzy showcase for Reckless and Ryan, the other an ambient piece featuring vocalists Eric Azure (sigh) and Dani Doom (sigh), and programmer James Lemos only, and respectively they are the best and worst songs on the album. As such, it should be relatively easy for you to determine wherein lie the merits of "Nevaeh" and wherein lie its weakest links. So while Design the Skyline certainly surprised us all by not releasing ten songs à la "Surrounded by Silence", it would still be cruel to recommend "Nevaeh" to anyone with the slightest sense of aesthetics.


Download: Reality Away, Destroyer, Reverie
For the fans of: The Bunny The Bear, The Dead Lay Waiting, Despite My Deepest Fear
Listen: Facebook

Release date 19.09.2011
Victory Records

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