Sitting behind a screen and pulling apart a piece of art is easy. Critics that ascribe difficulty to smashing keys in the name of reviewing music in particular, you suck. Taking an art form that requires time, effort, money and creativity and rendering it down into 500 words of “this was good but this sucked” will always seem harsh. Harsh and necessary. I Am Noah‘s The Verdict is the exception that proves this rule. For every swell of appreciation that this record gives, there’s a counter move that disappoints aggressively. The effort put into the crafting of this record is unquestionably greater than the hours dedicated to picking it apart but’s still not been a routine piece. A mixed bag, for great want of a better term.
It’s entirely acceptable to describe this band’s sound as anything from hardcore to djent. Transitioning awkwardly from turn of the century melodeath riffs into computer generated guitar stabs, The Verdict has a hundred moments of smashed together ideas that would carry weight were it not for an inane lack of coherence. There’s a sick moment in nearly every track. Some seriously sick at that. Hardcore lives momentarily in the bruising midsection of “One Man Wolfpack” – d-beat included and all too welcome in a maelstrom of stuttering “tech” riffs. Screamo vocals even jump in now and again to break up the crackling monotony of post post-hardcore shouting. These are highlights. Seriously. Taken with a pinch of salt, these individual stabs of inspiration are palatable. Consumed with the rest of this record – not so appetizing.
The pattern of the record is set out as early as the first real track and it gets criminally predictable from there on out. For every interesting twin guitar attack there’s five riffs that have been written before and inserted into better structured songs too. There’s not one clean guitar section without the same processed vocals layered on top; smothering rather than complimenting. Annoyingly, I Am Noah have a pretty tight grasp of what they can pull off. They just don’t do it consistently enough. “The Verdict” teases at raising the anthem bar and “Deafblind” makes the most out of one devastating riff; a riff so catchy it’s possible it might have been transported back from the next I Am Noah album.
Though they cater to audiences looking for the emotional moments doled out by Architects and the technical weight that After The Burial have perfected, I Am Noah suffer the same as most in this genre of metal. The Verdict falls into the same old traps and is set back by an unwillingness to stick to any real plan. This isn’t avant garde metal. It needs an end goal and it loses it’s way somewhere near the middle mark of the far too long run time. This isn’t the worst example of this kind of music to be released this year thus far. It’s not the best either. It’s a catastrophically average album that really should be threatening to punch a few weights higher than it does. Along the way, it hits heights that it probably shouldn’t, only to be let down again and again.
I Am Noah’s The Verdict gets…