Monday, November 7, 2016

Album Review: Annisokay - Devil May Care

Metalcore. Wow, it's been a long time since I've given that term any significant amount of thought. Even when it was at its height, I mostly stayed away from the genre. I dipped my toe in with Killswitch Engage (count me on Team Howard), but that was about the extent of it. And when even that formerly great band is treading water, I don't put much faith in the genre to produce much of worth. Part of that is the rote formula of the music, and part is that as I have gotten older, I have grown less willing to sit through the screaming verses to get to the meaty hooks of the songs. But, I do like to think of myself as a fair person, so I am giving Annisokay a chance to prove me wrong.

The opening track, "Loud", veers closer to being melodic death metal than even the genre's roots would imply. The riffing is pure melodeath, and the clean vocals only come in for spot duty, leaving the heavy lifting of the verses and the choruses to the guttural shouting. It certainly wasn't what I was expecting, nor necessarily what I prefer, but it's a well-written song that gets the point across ably.

After that, we revert to form, with the songs fitting into the harsh verse/clean chorus formula, but they do that because it works. There's no need to do something wildly different just for the sake of it. There's plenty of room to throw in new ideas, as the band does, through the actual musical ideas. "Smile" features a bridge that is straight out of the Meshuggah playbook. Mating those kinds of deeply percussive riffs to a song with an actual melodic component shows that there is something of note in such playing, not that Meshuggah is capable of ever showing it.

We reach a sticking point for many people with "Blind Lane", which ditches most of the heavier influences for a smoother sound that vocally isn't out of line with something Linkin Park would do. Of course, while the heavier, more metal fans might be dismayed by the song, I think it's a refreshing change of pace, and one of the best songs on the album. In fact, I think that's what makes Annisokay successful; their ability to make their clean sections bounce with a slight hint of pop/radio rock, as opposed to the more emo dramatic swells most bands prefer.

So here's where I stand on "Devil May Care": if you are a pure heavy metal fan, you might not enjoy the tone and structure of the clean vocals on this record. However, if you are a fan of melodic music who also happens to enjoy heavier stuff from time to time, Annisokay has done a very fine job of making a record that gives a little something for everyone. This isn't my favorite type of music, but I like what Annisokay is doing here. "Devil May Care" is a really good metalcore record.

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