Across Five Aprils

Life Underwater

Written by: PP on 12/05/2008 02:13:58

Across Five Aprils are a damn difficult band to like, as they keep changing their sound on pretty much every record. Their early material was brutal, death metallish stuff, which was injected with a great deal of melody to make it nothing short of brilliant. Then they went on to join the emo/screamo bandwagon on their previous album \"Collapse\", where their vocalist drew comparisons to AFI among others, and now, on the band\'s third full length \"Life Underwater\", the band makes yet another u-turn and drops the \'emo\' tag completely and focuses more on a screamed rock strategy. It seems that the band\'s downhill continues on this release, which was originally meant to be the bounce-back from the oh-so-common sophomore slump: while \"Collapse\" wasn\'t terrible, it just wasn\'t good enough in comparison to \"A Tragedy In Process\".

\"The Darkest Road\" kicks off the album with (another) new vocal style by Brandon Mullins - and it\'s god awful. He sounds he is aching to scream from the top of his lungs, but doesn\'t quite know how, so instead he tortures his vocal chords with something halfway in between yelling and screaming that\'ll probably end him up on the operating at some point in the next few years. This is strange considering his high-volume screams on \"Collapse\", so it must be either a conscious choice or he really sucked at screaming and fucked up his vocal chords on the last record already. Anyway, throw in some generic post-hardcore riffs and a pseudo-breakdown and the mess is ready: this is the very example of why so many people hate this genre with passion.

The next couple of songs do no better: the instrumentals lay out for an excellent song, and for a while - when Mullins sings clean - it is tolerable, but as soon as he breaks into the horrible screaming during one of the (too) many breakdowns... well, it isn\'t pretty I tell ya.

This is a great shame because somewhere around the midpoint of the album, the band has managed to put together a bunch of great songs, which perhaps don\'t sound like the Across Five Aprils we\'re used to, have the kind of quality we were expecting from the band ever since their debut. \"This Means Not Welcome\", \"I Am The Polar Bear\" and especially \"In Photographs\" are brilliant screamo songs deserving to be heard by any fan of the genre. Here, Mullins is able to magically perform the desperate scream we all know he is capable of, and his clean vocal choruses are sweet and catchy, something that doesn\'t really happen on the rest of the album.

Although the latter half of the album leaves the opening half in its shadow, it\'s still light years from matching \"A Tragedy In Process\". Hell, \"A Million Miles To Montreal\" is alone better than all of \"Life Underwater\" put together, but then again, that isn\'t too surprising considering how sub-standard many songs on here are. I really tried to like this record, hence the late review, but in the end I\'ll have to conform to what others are saying: bring back original guitarist/vocalist combo Taylor/Fields and then we\'re talking.

5

Download: In Photographs, I Am The Polar Bear
For the fans of: From Autumn To Ashes, Senses Fail, AFI (New), The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
Listen: Myspace

Release date 19.02.2008
Victory Records

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