Design the Skyline
01. Crystal Swords Kill The Hordes
02. Reality Away
04. Cybernetic Strawflower
05. Break Free From Your Life
07. Witch of the Woods
08. Free For Infinity
09. Under The Blood Driven Moon
You’d think that a metal blog reviewing the new Design the Skyline would simply be a practice in creative verbal abuse, but no, not today. I’d hate to admit it—mostly because it was just so damn fun—but maybe we as an entire internet community over-reacted a bit when we found out about Design the Skyline. Sure, that song “Surrounded By Silence” was hands down one of the worst things I’ve heard in a long time. That song was a terrible mish-mash of all things that was wrong with neon hair and tight pants from the BREE BREE breakdowns to the rave synths and autotune, and worst of all it wasn’t even arranged into anything that could be considered a coherent song. We all scoffed when word got out that they were going to be “proving the haters wrong,” as if there could be any meaningful improvement seen on the album. Turns out, it’s actually not as bad as all that, and I can’t fucking believe it.
Alright, before you get concerned about me, Nevaeh (whatever the hell that means) is by no means great, and that’s largely dependent on subjective taste, so many of you will no doubt absolutely still loath this record. However, there has been much improvement since their shitty first song went viral. I don’t know how they did it in such little time, and as cringe worthy as it is to admit, Nevaeh is much better than early expectations had lead us to believe.
I’m spiteful, and I hate everything to do with scene culture. Neon hair and tight pants, for some reason, send me into a fit of rage. Seeing the band themselves is like a slap in the face to good taste, but that’s not what music is about. When you forget the atrocity that came before it and get your mind out of the bandwagon mentality, Nevaeh is surprisingly listenable. “Surrounded by Silence” fortunately did not make it to the actual record, and if that doesn’t bode well, I don’t know what does.
At first it seemed like a ruse at saving face, as the first track “Crystal Swords Kill The Hordes” opens in the most typical fashion with a breakdown of the ages that eventually slows down to a crawl. Of course, Nevaeh starts off on the wrong foot, and through the terrible clean vocals that don’t even remotely sound good even through pitch-correction and faux-brutal lows, by the end of the track, in a surprise twist that could have put M. Night Shyamalan in the production credits, a beautiful guitar solo pours out of some atmospheric keyboard soundscapes and harmonic power chords. Needless to say, this raised a considerable eyebrow.
It wasn’t really a fluke though, as they go on to show that on a musical front, the band are at least competent. Much potential is shown throughout, with things starting to get good with track three, “Destroyer,” where the band becomes a somewhat decent deathcore band, if not just a little heavy on the breakdowns. “Cybernetic Strawflower” is also quite solid, with stand-out guitar playing and synth tracks that are reminiscent of iwrestledabearonce.
Unfortunately, things take a dip with the abhorrent “Break Free From Your Life,” the token “happy chorus” track with some of the most obnoxious vocals I’ve heard from a core band. Electronic based interlude track “Free For Infinity,” which features some inane vocal swapping, is also a huge blemish on Nevaeh‘s tracklist that is better off ignored. The breakdowns can also get quite monotonous, but that was seen coming from a mile away.
It’s abundantly clear that the absolute worst thing about Design the Skyline comes from the vocal front. Each band member shows their worth save for the two vocalists, who provide nothing but sloppy and disgustingly awful screams and gutturals, as well as singing so piss-poor that autotune can’t possibly begin save them. In fact, the band impresses and shows their maturity on instrumental tracks “Reverie,” which is a jazzy track complete with short bass and guitar solos that eventually morphs into The Contortionist territory, and the title track, which is actually quite haunting with its atmospheric clean guitar and synth layers—almost as if it were an apology for the awful track that preceded it, “Under The Blood Driven Moon.”
Upon Nevaeh‘s completion, it becomes clear that there’s a more mature and musically capable aspect to Design the Skyline that they’re hopefully only BEGINNING to show. Honestly, if the band were to drop both vocalists, perform fewer breakdowns, refine their playing, and explore some more of the progressive ideas that pop up around Nevaeh, they could have the potential to match the quality of Arsonists Get All The Girls and The Contortionist. It’s all there, but there’s all that glitter and hair in the way. At their absolute worst, they’re no worse than Attack! Attack!, but at their best, they could be a top-level -core band. Unfortunately, I don’t see it happening—but then again, they went from “oh my god, this is the worst thing ever” to “wow, these dudes have potential” in only a few months. Once they grow out of that whole scene thing, it’s hard telling what we’ll end up with.
Design the Skyline – Nevaeh gets…
This is a whole two points higher than I had initially expected. Weird.
BONUS: How To Turn a Largely Hit-and-Miss Design the Skyline Album Into A Pretty Decent EP That Is Actually Kind Of Worth Listening To
STEP ONE. Pretend you never saw the band. If you have to, change the band’s name to Nevaeh (or Arsonists Attack All The Contortionists Once if you have my sense of humor) and just lie to yourself. It’s pretty easy to do, actually.
STEP TWO. Change the tracklist to the following:
01. Crystal Swords Kill The Hordes*
03. Cybernetic Strawflower
05. Witch of the Woods*
* = remove the embarrassing breakdowny parts with Audacity.
STEP THREE. Boom! You have Nevaeh’s new self-titled EP. Look at those youngsters showing their promise. Godspeed!