Not Tonight Josephine

Not Tonight Josephine EP

Written by: TL on 06/03/2015 18:10:45

At this point in time, especially in the American music landscape, metalcore is an industry as much as an artistic expression - like a mini pop industry situated within the metal and alternative music scenes. Similarly to pop, modern metalcore is all about setting up for the hook melody in the chorus, the difference simply being that in metalcore, verses must of course be full of screams, growls and open string chugging, while bridge sections must include a "sick breakdown", mostly in form of more open string chugging, only staged in an even more vulgar and punchy fashion. When it works, it makes for a devilishly engaging dynamic, which explains the mass of bands constantly appearing in the genre, but if the last couple of years have shown anything, it is that if you rule out the nuances of the scene's various clean singers, it can be hard as hell to tell the simplistic pummelling of these bands' heavy foundations apart, at least in most but the most creative names in the genre.

When the review opens by describing the genre so generally, it is because Florida newcomers Not Tonight Josephine are a perfect example of its strengths and drawbacks on their self-titled EP which came out a few days ago. Aimed shamelessly at the younger/more modern generation of music fans, the EP opens with half a minute of ambience and muffled, wordless screaming titled simply with a provocative ";)". As soon as the sweeping intro riff and obligatory heavy verse has started "ReEmerge" however, the first hook appears with frontman Danny Garry revealing a capable singing voice, which doesn't suffer noticeably from signature metalcore problems of being pitched over-ambitiously high, or having been drenched in digital post-processing. "You're gonna miss me when I'm gone" he repeats to a melody that figures to stick well enough in your head if you give it a few listens. As "Nothing To Show" follows, deploying the same recipe to deja vu-like effect, one thing that comes to mind is that Garry is less hysterical in his singing than what fans of the genre would generally be used to, and while this spares him the risk of falling into overly corny passages, it also makes the songs feel a bit cold and pop-like, which contrasts with intended urgency of the all too typical lyrical narratives: Here personal turmoil and rebellious sentiments is voiced in terms that are vague enough that anyone can relate on a superficial level, yet hardly fooling anybody into thinking that the group are particularly creative lyrical types.

To the record's credit, the production job, courtesy of Taylor Larson and Spencer Sotelo of From First To Last, is up to scratch, and it means that at first glance Not Tonight Josephine sound like they measure up to other bands currently prominent in the genre, even those that may be an album or two ahead of them. Sotelo is also credited as a guest vocalist on the fourth track "Eyes", yet as is all too typical for the frequent guest vocal appearances in the scene, his contribution is a couple of barely noticeable lines at the beginning of the bridge, and it's hard not to suspect that his inclusion has more to do with the star power his name adds to the track list.

"All too typical for the genre" is absolutely the headline of the release overall then, as the description continues to fit during the change-of-pace ballad "Don't Hold Your Tongue" at track five, and in the closer "Barefaced" where the heaviness is dialled up by half a notch and where we get an obligatory "bleurgh" scream in the inevitable breakdown part towards the end of the song. In essence then, "Not Tonight Josephine" is a divisive release, because it's primary characteristic is that it does pretty much exactly what every half-decent metalcore band in the scene has been doing for a while, no better or worse. It doesn't have as obvious integrity problems as some of the band's more corny contemporaries, yet at the same time it also doesn't take the genre anywhere interesting. Do you praise the band for rising to the level of the competition then? Or criticise them for showing no ideas to rise above them? The answer is going to depend on a person's love for the genre in general, but it's likely that the lack of novelty figures to shorten the EP's longevity considerably, regardless of the band's otherwise solid grasp of the basic dynamics.

Download: ReEmerge, Barefaced
For The Fans Of: A Skylit Drive, Blessthefall, Adept, Annisokay, Alive In Standby

Release date 03.03.2015

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