The Color Morale

Desolate Divine

Written by: TL on 05/10/2016 19:21:29

Illinois quartet The Color Morale have over the years established themselves as nothing if not a pillar of consistency in the US metalcore scene. Arriving this year at their fifth full-length since 2009, the band has released albums at regular intervals, picking up and putting down trends from their genre, but with the impression always being that they took things on in a tasteful way, avoiding the low roads of catering to the lowest common denominator, as bands in their genre otherwise often resort to. On the new "Desolate Divine", this remains true, while the band relegates their screaming element more to spread out background usage, allowing the proficiency of singer Garret Rapp - whose performance is wonderfully free of too much digital cosmetics - to carry the day in a way similar to what you hear from bands like Slaves or Hands Like Houses.

Meanwhile, the instrumental side of things retains a heaviness that at times reminds of Architects in the low end, at others of more hard-rock/nu-metal stylings of a group like Nothing More. And the complete product there are several reasons to like. The songwriting is dynamic, flows nicely, and is detailed enough to notice if one pays attention. Rapp's singing is catchy, nicely textured and above else believable, and from the lyrics you get impression that the band likes to write fairly level-headed songs that console listeners who go through hard times with finding their place in the world.

In short, The Color Morale seem rather genuine, a rare compliment in the metalcore genre, and when you're listening to the good parts on the record, you get the impression that these guys must've been on the cusp of blowing up bigger for a long while. The verse in "Trail Of Blood" for instance is great, the chorus in "Walls" shows obvious potential, and "Version Of Me", "Home Bittersweet Home" and "Fauxtographic Memory" are pretty much wholesome, recommendable songs, that grow on the listener with only a few listens.

The thing is, though, that for each promising moment on the record, there seems to be a corresponding part somewhere, where attention drifts, and where you sort of notice why The Color Morale aren't even bigger than they are. The distance from the average to the good bits isn't that far, one observes, and for all The Color Morale's commendable qualities, they lack some qualities that bands like theirs sorely need to move into the top tier: Extremity and/or innovation coming to mind as two. Not to say that they need to bring in death metal parts, or try to make art rock, more so just saying that the bands at the forefront of the genre, your Architects, for instance, have blown ears wide open with various key bits on recent material, where you just know that's who you're listening to, and that they're still setting the bar for their genre of music.

"Desolate Divine", if anything, misses this element crucially, which bars it from true greatness. It's a thoroughly sturdy and enjoyable record, that grows on you with extra listens and rarely if ever disappoints, but sort of without wanting to, it also reveals The Color Morale as a band a little too inspired by their close contemporaries, rather than one taking chances and mapping out a distinct artistic path for themselves. If you can live with that, don't miss out, however, on some quality metalcore for what that's worth. Just adjust your expectations a bit if you were hoping for this to be the record, on which the band would truly step up to contend and make a more unique mark.


Download: Version Of Me, Home Bittersweet Home, Fauxtographic Memory
For The Fans Of: The Word Alive, Hands Like Houses, Slaves, Issues

Release date 24.06.2016
Fearless Records

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