Evergreen Terrace

Dead Horses

Written by: TL on 12/01/2014 22:46:03

Whenever I come back to Evergreen Terrace, it never fails to amaze me somewhat that the Jacksonville outfit is still trucking on after more than twelve years as a band. Personally, I wasn't even aware they existed until 2007's "Wolfbiker", the band's fourth studio album, but the following "Almost Home", which came out in 2009, kicked such substantial amounts of ass that I made note to keep an eye out if the band should proceed to make it six. It took four years, a shift from Metal Blade to Rise Records and the departure of guitarist Josh James, whom fans will also know from Casey Jones and Stick To Your Guns, but in December the band finally came back with "Dead Horses".

A likely reason for the band's longevity is that they've established themselves as somewhat of an institution in the field between hardcore and metalcore, mixing the "guitars blazing" attitude and melodic choruses of the latter with the high speed beats and urgent delivery of the former. You can count on them to play fast, you can count on harsh vocals in the verses, you can count on cleaner (though still masculine) ones in the choruses and you can count on at least one breakdown and/or mini-solo per song to keep things interesting past the middle.

So it has been and so it remains on "Dead Horses", yet perhaps the album's title is a flash of awareness that letting something new drip into the mix is perhaps not the worst idea at this point. This has resulted in an overall style that seemingly wants to be a bit deeper than on past records, and the tone of the choruses seems more sympathetic and encouraging than the "angry-and-indignant" of both some of the band's earlier work and of many hardcore bands at large. On a more specific level, a song like "Browbeaters Anonymous" flirts with some slightly Misery Signals-ish reflective melody underneath its mid-section, while a another like "Lacuna Inc." has a surprisingly happy melody to it, which makes you wonder if the band is trying to draw some inspiration from the likes of A Day To Remember or Four Year Strong. And in the opposite direction, the grand tremolo that opens "The Fortunate Ones" seems borrowed from either black metal or post rock.

Regardless of the new found nuances on the album however, Evergreen Terrace's core constituents remain the same, except sadly, they seem to have been tamed here in the band's mature age. Each separate riff, beat or breakdown is melodic hardcore alright, but the way they're fitted together here feels as careful and rule-bound as any radio-rock/metal band you'd hear trying to get on the radio. It's not that Evergreen Terrace ever struck me as particularly experimental, but on "Almost Home" the band seemed like the only thing that excited them more than the part they were currently playing, was getting to the part after it, making for an intense listen which had you feeling like they were piling the awesome on you as quick as you could handle. Compared to that, "Dead Horses" feels like an album where the roaring lions that roamed freely in its predecessor's soundscape have now been leashed.

The result is that despite the new tones, the expert arrangements and the decent production values, "Dead Horses" eventually starts to feel slightly stale, its title fitting it in an unfortunate, prophetic way. Its second track, "When You're Born In The Gutter, You end Up in The Port" seems the sole lasting takeaway, with a refrain that feels familiar even on first listen, but otherwise the material on here is the typical example of songwriting that's okay by all standards, yet not great by any that I find myself subscribing to.

Download: When You're Born In The Gutter, You End Up In The Port
For The Fans Of: Comeback Kid, Devil In Me
Listen: facebook.com/EvergreenTerrace

Release Date 10.12.2013
Rise Records

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