The Decade EP

Written by: TL on 09/05/2014 18:59:22

At the height of the popularity of screamo and guyliner, the North Carolina sextet Alesana was perhaps the epitomy of any myspace teenagers dream. Nevermind the Black Veil Brides of now - Back then, girls wanted to be with Shawn Milke and guys wanted to scream like Dennis 'Diablo' Lee, and no matter what sex you were, the black t-shirt/red tie combination was a viable fashion option. The curious thing was that beneath these superficial facets, Alesana actually consistently delivered outrageously catchy metalcore songs and flamboyant live shows like few of their contemporaries, and perhaps for this reason, the band lives on despite the slightly underwhelming arrival of 2011's "A Place Where The Sun Is Silent" and subsequent substitution of two year guitarist Alex Torres for his predecessor Jake Campbell who is now back in the fold.

Keeping up with announcements, the band was supposedly working on the third chapter of the trilogy that's so far included "The Emptiness" and "A Place Where The Sun Is Silent", but opted to postpone this in order to release and tour the recently outed "The Decade EP" in celebration of the band's ten year anniversary. Perhaps that's why the closest thing you come to the contagious hooks we've come to expect from Shawn Milke's thin, camp vocals, are bits that bid you "Never forget who you are, stick to your guns" ("Ravenous") or "Raise your glass to rock'n'roll" and "Dance around 'til you can almost taste the beat" ("Deja Vu All Over Again") or warn us that "If we all take it for granted, music soon will die" ("Nevermore"). Frankly, such topics worry me, because as I've come to learn from A Thorn For Every Heart's "Pick Up The Pieces" EP and Chiodos' "Those Who Slay Together Stay Together", there are few things more indicative of a band about to fall apart, than one who sings about how much they love being a band and want to keep it going.

Even if we disregard such conjecture though, it's hard not to listen to "The Decade EP" and not worry if the well of inspiration isn't about to run dry, because what the six tracks offer us is fairly predictable Alesana-salad. The band's goth-tinged theatre-core has always been a bit of a chaotic mix of horror-toned breakdowns and neo-classical guitar harmonies, but at least in earlier days, Milke and Lee would breathe a certain immediacy into the lyrical fantasies that made them endearing (see: "A Most Profound Quiet", "Hymn For The Shameless" or the classic "Apology"). Here, despite the ever improving technicalities of both their vocals and the band's overall instrumental prowess, it feels like the songwriting has been on almost complete autopilot.

Thus I feel like "The Decade EP" is ultimately a somewhat unnecessary stopgap release for the band, and that their career is more in need of them looking forward and finding a way to reignite the engaging songwriting that made their first three records ripe with skeptic-convincing numbers like the ones I just mentioned. On here "Second Guessing" and "Deja Vu All Over Again" are passable cuts, but nothing to really get excited about. They merely make you go a sort of "oh, Alesana are still here, doing what they always do" - only seemingly less hungry.


Download: Deja Vu All Over Again, Second Guessing
For The Fans Of: In Fear And Faith, The Ongoing Concept, Set It Off

Release date 01.04.2014
Artery Recordings

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