This Or The Apocalypse

Dead Years

01. Hell Praiser
02. Power Hawk
03. In Wolves
04. Americans
05. Hate The Ones You Love
06. You Owe No One But You
07. A Damn Moment
08. Gaunt And Fierce
09. Kill ‘Em With Guidance
10. Hard Branch To Snap

[09/25/12]
[eOne Music]

This Or The Apocalypse aren’t your standard Metalcore band. Just listen to Haunt What’s Left and you’ll see why. A personal favorite from 2010, it is one of the best metalcore releases to come out in a while, and what really made it so was its ability to groove. Produced by Chris Adler, the album is chock full of groovy sections, bouncy riffs, and awesome drum beats that make it fun to listen to. It was apparent that Adler had rubbed off on the group. However after losing a crucial member of their band in the form of drummer Grant MacFarland, it led one to be very skeptical as to whether or not they could still make a fun, groovy record that didn’t cause them to regress and fall into mediocrity like so many other bands have after such a strong release.

While not as powerful as Haunt What’s Left, it can still hold its own, intertwining slower ballads with the fast-paced and upbeat Metalcore standard. The clean vocals are also more apparent here, as front man Rick Armellino belts his heart out from start to finish. Speaking of starting, the opening riff is definitely super catchy. It will definitely get stuck in your head for a very very long time. It’s probably the best way to start this record, because if the first song was bad, it most likely would not have held anyone’s attention for longer than 35 seconds. The next few song are also very powerful, with Rick’s beautiful cleans on ‘In Wolves’ being a highlight on the record. The next song ‘Americans’ is a ballad of sorts, if you would call it one. One of the noticeably slower songs on the records, it’s what TOTA have done before with certain songs, but this time around, they slowed it down and put their souls into it, which is always refreshing. Plus, this album has some of the most memorable grooves they have ever written, while not spectacular, you bet your bottom dollar they are catchy as hell. Also, just listen to the last track on the record, ‘Hard Branch To Snap.’ If that doesn’t get you singing along to the chant of “Will you sleep tonight?” then nothing will.

For a moment, let’s take some time to appreciate the players. These guys are talented. Really talented. Jusat listen to the lead harmonies throughout the entire record. Guitarists Jack Esbenshade and Rodney Phillips really have an ear for melodic passages, which is something rare to find. They don’t put stock parts behind a breakdown or main riff; they are all carefully calculated parts that’s sole purpose is to emphasize what is really going on. And Aaron Ovecka, their drummer, had big shoes to fill after Grant left, but he did a mighty fine job. He fits in perfectly with their sound, and you can’t differentiate between the two at times, while knowingly hearing the difference in others. It’s truly awesome to know these guys can pull this stuff off live.

There are some major flaws with the album though. For one, the screamed “Welcome to America!” in opener ‘Hell Praiser’ seems a tad cliche  and makes the listener go “Wow, didn’t know they were a bunch of angsty teens.” Another major problem here is that it fails to live up to the expectations set by its predecessor. As with fellow Lancasterans August Burns Red, the change from Messengers to Constellations was a very noticeable one in the way it improved dramatically and helped them find their niche. While TOTA haven’t quite found their niche yet, they still have no excuse for writing music below their skill level. This album feels as if it was almost realized fully, but stopped at 90%. Finally, this album, in parts, sounds derivative of the newest The Devil Wears Prada release, whether it be through the vocals or lead guitar work. However, this is insignificant, because in a way, all music is derivative.

This Or The Apocalypse had to do a pretty damn good job to follow up Haunt What’s Left, and they mostly succeeded, give or take a few flaws. But if you haven’t heard them yet, please don’t let this review discourage you. This album is recommended for those who love melody, breakdowns, clean vocals and beautiful songwriting all meshed into one album. Pick this one up; don’t torrent it. These guys play to bowling alleys of 37 people. Let’s help them play to theaters of thousands.

This or the Apocalypse – Dead Years gets…

4/5

– SS

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