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Reroute To $$$$$$ - 7%

OzzyApu, September 25th, 2011

For the sake of self-respect… no, nevermind, the band threw that out on the last album. This is where they had a toe in the doorway of the United States, and they weren’t leaving without stripping themselves of musical integrity to get in. My biggest complaint, summed up in that last sentence, is how fake this album sounds. Now the band created the ultimate phony sack of garbage with Soundtrack To Your Escape, but for a first volley, they knew just how synthetic they wanted to sound. Look no further if you want processed, non-critical, simplistic, absent-of-atmosphere dogshit (oh excuse me, I mean badly imitated modern rock).

Here’s one general problem off the bat. This is a digitized, amplified mess with no personality, but what’s the genre? It’s not melodic death (in fact, very little is outright melodic death), and certainly not flat out rock. It’s modern metal/rock that’s mainstream, but how can that be when Anders’ whiny, nasally screams have no appeal to them whatsoever? Non-extreme metal listeners would have to already be into harsher vocals (by rock standards) to get into this music. I know, because I was that kind of fan back in the day. Listening to this, I knew I loved whatever the instruments were doing (being loud), but I didn’t like the vocals at all. Except one thing – the clean vocals I could tolerate.

Bingo

Anders is powerless as a vocalist to begin with, but the mockery isn’t just in his “harsh vocals” anymore. His screams are pissed off “grrrrrs” at every start before he exhales with a childish replication of mutilated screams. Think of all those awful screamo vocalists (and I mean those emo / post-hardcore screamo singers), and then imagine a register lower – that’s what Anders sounds like. A lot of times they get buried under the instruments anyway, considering how noisy everything else is thanks to the loudness of the production. Anyway, the catch is this – Anders is like a really shitty Dragon Ball Z villain, in that he’s only useful for a limited number of episodes before his unique power is worth jack shit because everyone found a way to get around it. Anders and the band know that they have nothing to offer during anything other than the chorus, which is half of the textbook rule – ensure that the chorus is catchy as all hell. That’s where the band hopes you, as the listener, are sucked in. For a number of bands, even in metal, this is par for the course and the standard. However, for a band with absolutely no formula and devoid of character, this is digging a grave with bare hands.

Perfect example – “Trigger” – Jesus fuck, a music video even went along with this garbage.

This song screams factory-direct: factory-direct start-stop chugga-chugga riffs in the verse with maybe a few ounces of melodic death, Svensson continuing to look at those dollars raking under his drum stool, and roughly ten seconds of soloing trying to recapture what In Flames did on Clayman. The composition is already middling, with the verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure having nothing to offer, but the way it’s executed, ugh. Keep in mind that there are worse songs on this album, as expected, but this is the single, along with “Cloud Connected” – another assembly-line constructed filler. Anders, just like on every song here, is in a race to get to the chorus. No song gains anything with Anders’ screaming, but it’s the chorus that’s the jackpot, according to the band. That’s when Anders lets loose those awkward “eueueueugueuuegeueh” cleans that’s heavy on the accent. It’s not harmonic or very pleasant, for one, yet it’s used on every song (with “Metaphor” devoted fully to the clean singing).

Now that’s “Trigger”, but on the other songs it isn’t that much different. Some he uses whatever “atmosphere” the band scrounges up with the electronics like on the title track to sound cryptic, but it’s such an awkward voice. The aforementioned “Metaphor” is a fully clean track with these clean vocals, and misplaced between probably the most melodic death oriented track on the album (“Dark Signs” – essentially a carbon copy of “Cloud Connected”) and the chuggernaut “Black & White”. A few of these tracks would hurt, but fucking fourteen of them one after the other is a gauntlet. You would think with all the stuff padded into each song – electronics, chugging, the sneering screams, and the failing cleans – there would be enough to create some variety. Not exactly, as every song follows the same formula and nothing has any redeeming value to it. Take “Drifter” for instance, a short chugfest with another ounce of melodic death in it buried under the same riff heard on every song, as well as those screams during the verse and the cleans during the chorus. It has no personality – loud playing doesn’t mean energetic.

Svensson I still hold as the only member worth anything anymore. The man, even on this album, is playing with his gut as he attacks the kit with pummeling double bass. Obviously he doesn’t do anything very impressive, but with pointlessly loud music as this, all you could ask is that he shows a little hostility. That’s true, and the kit is very loud, but once more there’s no reason. There’s absolutely no point to anything being played here, and the second I shut this off I know I’ll be reinvigorated by something else.