A Skylit Drive

Identity On Fire

Written by: TL on 17/02/2011 22:30:56

We had quite a fling, A Skylit Drive and I, back on their debut LP "Wires And The Concept Of Breathing". I loved that album to death until one day, romance ended, and disenchanted I moved on and oddly, I have hardly looked back ever since. For old times sake, I listened to the sophomore "Adelphia" when it came around, and checked the band out live soon after, finding both experiences quite terrible. So I had actually written the Californian sextet off, and yet still I decided to give the new album "Identity On Fire" a chance. And I'm glad I did, because some way, somehow, A Skylit Drive have managed to become good again.

There's no simpler way to explain why, than to report that everything about the band's music sounds better than ever before, and though I don't know if this is really to be blamed on a bigger budget or a better producer, the fact is that it is cause for us all to rejoice. The two guitars at the core of the band's sound, are remarkably richer and more versatile in sound on here, and their interplay with keys and ambiance is more effective than ever before.

And then there's the band's trademark, the vocals of Michael 'Jag' Jagmin, who has traditionally made it his business to out-girl even Claudio Sanchez with shrill and impossibly high notes. The improvement of him and bassist/screamer Brian White deserves this paragraph to themselves. Not only does White's screaming sound fuller and more varied - Not only does its bigger role on the album result in a much better dynamic - But Jagmin has finally found a bottom in his voice, and he's even ventured so far as to introduce some scratchy heat into it on occasion. Okay, so he still prances into sections where his notes are unnaturally high and have likely required untold amounts of digital correction, but the mere fact that this is now the exception rather than the rule, single-handedly makes this album infinitely more enjoyable than the predecessor that had the ginger singer mostly sounding like Cyndi Lauper.

Furthermore, the songwriting has changed for the better as well, as it occurs to me that ASD are no longer trying to sound all massive and super-emotive, like Bless The Fall or Underoath for instance. Instead, the sound now aligns more with bands like Alesana or Chiodos, and the slightly lighter style greatly suits album highlights like the tracks two and three "Too Little Too Late" and "XO Skeleton". Then when things get heavy, like in "The Cali Buds", it actually compliments the song, rather than disrupt it, and the band has even found it in themselves, to include a true larger-than-life post-hardcore anthem in the whopping "Your Mistake".

Let me take things down a notch though, because I know I sound like this is better than Jesus stepping down from heaven to hand you a case of beer and a cheeseburger. It is nowhere near that good, because there are still the odd moments, like the chorus of "Conscience Is A Killer", or the electronica-fused "Fuck The System" for instance, that are a little lame. Couple this with the album losing a little bit of steam towards the end, and the lyrics coming off a bit bone-headed here and there, and we're instantly taken out of range of the truly epic grades. I apologize if for a second you thought I was going up there, I'm just stunned that this band has come back to write an album with more memorable material than filler. So yeah, wow, welcome back to relevance guys - now pull it off live as well, then we'll really talk.


Download: Too Little Too Late, Your Mistake, The Cali Buds, XO Skeleton, Ex Marks The Spot
For The Fans Of: Alesana, Jamie's Elsewhere, Chiodos, Broadway, akissforjersey
Listen: myspace.com/askylitdrive

Release Date 21.02.2011
Fearless Records

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