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Post-metalcore with limited punch - 50%

autothrall, March 28th, 2011

Modern metalcore is in dire need of a facelift, a progression beyond the same old tripe that has been served upon us for the past decade, and from what I'd read of the young Italian band As Likely As Not, I was rather hoping that they'd be among the vanguard, carrying the torch. Unfortunately, their debut Stand Up and Nerve, while affixing a few twists and turns to the usual plot line, is really just more of the popular format including melodic death metal guitars in the direct succession of At the Gates and Dark Tranquillity, breakdowns straight from the camp of Hatebreed and Earth Crisis, and a mix of grunts and emotionally charged melodeath vocals, which stick pretty close to the teat of Tomas Lindberg and other pioneers in that genre.

As Likely As Not do manage to avoid a couple of the pitfalls that I'd normally equate with the style, namely the clean radio friendly vocal choruses, and the fact that their prepositional phrase name is a little more interesting than something like Beyond the Day of the Horizon of the Blood of the What The Fuck Ever. No, this is all screaming or growling of one form or another, so you can be thankful...for that lack of whining. And to be fair, they also manage to toss a few catchy hooks into tracks like "Realization", "Nerving Empathy" and "Inhale Exhale". But these are scattered far enough among the dime a dozen grooves and Swedish derived death/thrash riffs that they tend to become tainted by their surroundings. The rhythm section is rock hard, and the mix of the disc is punchy and visceral, but there's still not much impetus to bother with this album when you can dabble in better artists like Converge, Botch, Architects, Between the Buried and Me, etc, who are simply richer with ideas.

That said, Stand Up and Nerve is not completely atrocious, and about 50% of its ideas could be supplanted into other music for a greater whole. For example, I really enjoyed the weird electro track "Omega" that closes the album, except perhaps the tonal 'fuck you' that arrives as its dying out. The ambient interlude "Only Echoes of Dreams" is likewise curious, and I wish that they'd mixed this fascination for atmosphere into the rest of the album, who knows what that might have sounded like. But the Italians do not appear yet ready to release themselves from the familiar, crowd pleasing Swedish riffs and mosh rhythms, and unfortunately they're just not writing anything compelling in that direction. Unless you're pining for yet another mediocre record to add to your collection of Black Dahlia Murder, As Blood Runs Black, Unearth, or whatever the kids are hip to these days, I can't really recommend this, but at least they're a step up from shitty tattooed deathcore fashionistas and New England Sweet 16 Party metal like All That Remains.