The Plot In You

Happiness In Self Destruction

Written by: TL on 26/11/2015 13:43:03

If you make a quick foray into the past releases of the Ohio-based metalcore group The Plot In You, your impression is likely to be that the band has a core sound of monstrously heavy, down tuned metalcore, which they have attempted to spice up with various clean choruses and more inventive guitar parts built on here and there, yet the balance and cohesion between their elements have mostly been a bit off. After putting their two first albums out on Rise Records, however, the band has now moved over to Stay Sick Recordings for the release of their third opus, "Happiness In Self Destruction", and on here things are suddenly starting to come together in a much more wholesome way.

Massive credit should go to former Before Their Eyes frontman Landon Tewers, who has self-produced all three of the band's albums and provides both clean and harsh vocals on the new record because the considerable improvements figure to be primarily on his part. And when we are talking about improvements, it's because "Happiness In Self Destruction" sounds, for a large part at least, like the work of a band who is suddenly up in a role similar to bands like Underoath, Architects or Bring Me The Horizon - the role of a band pushing the very boundaries of what you can do in the metalcore and post-hardcore genres. Not that old fans of the band should despair, because The Plot In You is still a monstrously, unsettlingly heavy sounding band. In fact, much of the record sounds like the bluntness and crudeness of nu-metal joining forces with the down tuned savagery of deathcore, making for some severely pit-friendly noise to treat your ears to. The twist this time, however, is really in how diverse Tewers has grown as a vocalist, and in how inventive he has grown to be as a producer.

"Hole In The Wall" opens the record with a dissonantly wailing riff, joined soon by a down tuned battering, the two meshing together in an uncomfortable way while Tewers comes in spitting bitterness and vitriol. It sounds like a glorious trainwreck in high definition, until suddenly, the vocals change into a high pitched and deliciously textured clean chorus: "Maaaaaybeee it's juuust meee!" is etched into your brain before the song continues along its intensifying path of destruction. But for a while there, the guitar rings melodiously and ethereally in the background, echoing the kind of haunting atmosphere that Bring Me The Horizon and Underoath have both been known for at points in their careers. The opener thus provides a good cross-cut of what the album has in store, as does the following "Dear Old Friend", where the vocals change between introverted muttering and pained, extended howling, sitting atop a reverberating riff that sounds like it could belong in an intro for a record of atmospheric black metal.

Yet for each two or three desolate batterings, however, "Happiness.." also has a song experimenting in a more melodic direction. "Take Me Away" for instance, follows with hopeful piano notes, leading into a verse of half-scratched/half-melodic singing upon the kind of drumming that sounds like it's about to break into a run, before opening up into melodic screaming of the song's title. Generally this track sounds like it could've been one of the stronger songs on a record like "Sempiternal", providing a highlight when it drops down to a nice break, only to deliver a completely unique sounding mini-solo of noises that are hard to determine whether they come from guitar, keyboard or some sort of trumpet.

Meanwhile, in the second verse of "Pillhead", Tewers introduces a bit of almost rap-like rhythm to his growled frustrations, sounding like he truly is grappling madly with his inner demons. You get the impression that, like a method actor starving himself thin for a role as an addict, The Plot In You have invested the same amount of overblown devotion to making each end of their sound come out as extreme as possible. The heavy end sounds like utter, personal rock bottom, the haunting keys and guitars in the back sound like the atmosphere of a surreal horror story, and the clean choruses have the raspy edge of resignation that sounds properly like desperate pleas for relief.

Unfortunately, as a whole, "Happiness In Self Destruction" does come with a caveat and a pretty obvious one at that. Namely that at fifteen tracks, the record is at least three or four songs too long. On the first half of the album, you don't really feel this, partly because the sequencing of songs also helps them stand apart, and there's a pretty clear sense of each one's separate role and identity. The latter half of the album, however, feels like it has more frequent tracks similar to the first half's "Runaway". As inventive as Tewers and his colleagues have been with mixing guitar noises with turntables and sampling various prop sounds to add to the background, you get the feeling in songs like this one, that some of these tracks are built on more pale versions of guitar and vocal methods you just heard in a similar song, solely for the purpose of giving foundation to a lyric that Tewers has wanted as part of the story.

The album's main strength, which is exactly the contrast between its crushing heaviness and its soaring urgency, is not framed as regularly or as impressively down the stretch, and the continued reliance on the haunting keyboard ambiance does wear it a bit thin. As such, "Happiness In Self Destruction" sadly does not quite turn out as the kind of record you just soak up from front to back. It shows some limitations, or perhaps more precisely; some areas where The Plot In You can still improve, namely in trimming their ideas more diligently and in expanding even more in the nuances in both their heavy and their melodic end. With that being said, though, the group should be proud because with this "generic" is now a word that can no longer be justly attached to their music.

Download: Take Me Away, Hole In The Wall, Pillhead, Better Vibes,
For The Fans Of: Underoath, Bring Me The Horizon, Architects

Release date 16.10.2015
Stay Sick Recordings

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