Outline In Color

Struggle

Written by: TL on 15/03/2016 15:11:57

Oklahoma's Outline In Color is a name that still manages to recall the strong impressions made by the opening of the 2012 debut "Jury Of Wolves", yet it has been some time since we heard something comparably promising from the group, and - spoiler alert - that sadly also includes the band's newest opus "Struggle".

In large part, this has to do with the band's non-evolution in style. Falling in the metalcore/post-hardcore category, Outline In Color's claim to individuality arguably is their ongoing attempt to merge both heaviness and poppiness with extra orchestral instrumentation in the vein of In Fear And Faith, classical piano alá old Chiodos and occasional sprinklings of electronica, reminiscent of Issues or I See Stars.

Those have been the ingredients ever since "Jury Of Wolves", but by now it feels more like these elements are stuck in the soundscape together, just waiting for their turn, more so than they actually compliment each other in any particularly enjoyable ways. Particularly the band's heavy side feels uninspired here on "Struggle", clearly losing out in terms of both power, personality and innovation compared to how metalcore as a genre is otherwise progressing. Instead of giving you urges to throw down, the lively chugging, drumming and screaming just sounds stereotypical and makes you feel impatient for the next bit of actual melody. And it does not help that screamer Trevor Tatro's contribution is often far from intelligible.

In the other end of the spectrum resides singer K.C. Simonsen, who sounds like a more shrill Tilian Pearson with a tendency to let his voice break incredibly often, yet he at least sounds reasonably convincing and comfortable in his parts. As to whether his lines are as catchy as intended, there are some examples where you could say yes in "My Other Car Is A Time Machine" and "Eat Your Heart Out" - although the latter is marred by a questionable inclusion of a fake sounding domestic shouting match between Tatro and a woman.

Yet despite the often frantic drum patterns and overall professional sounding production, Outline In Color's intended energetic style rarely feels at all electrifying. It is in fact easily outmatched in that department by several bands trading in less extreme stylistic mixtures. And that's the overall problem: That all the dramatic elements the band seeks to employ are not being assembled with impactful vision or originality. The few places where guitar, piano or synth lines stick out they are almost deafened by the rhythm section and likely never to be heard again in the composition, yet these flourishes are actually the main hints of something that could have been elaborated into a unique style or identity.

Take all these considerations and add the fact that the album is lengthy at fourteen tracks, and you get a listening experience where you can hum along to the pseudo-catchy bits if you have it on idly, but if you try to pay attention and look for something more worthwhile in it, it will likely grate on both ears and patience rather quickly.

Download: My Other Car Is A Time Machine, Alive, Eat Your Heart Out, Way The World Turns
For The Fans Of: Chiodos, In Fear And Faith, Broadway
Listen: facebook.com/outlineincolor

Release date 11.03.2016
Standby Records

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