CD Reviews

BY DI ARTS STAFF | JUNE 30, 2009 7:21 AM

Killswitch masters the catchy metal-core formula

Killswitch Engage: Killswitch Engage
*** 1/2 out of *****

Every band has that one album it will never be able to top. For Metallica, it was Master of Puppets. For Megadeth, it was Rust in Peace. Sadly, Killswitch Engage’s latest self-titled album is not its holy grail — that honor goes to the band’s major label début, Alive or Just Breathing.

Ever since vocalist Howard Jones joined Killswitch Engage, the band has taken a more commercial direction. Such albums as The End of Heartache and As Daylight Dies were catchy-yet-soon-forgotten examples of the metal-core genre that the group helped spawn. Killswitch Engage is a better album than the previous two in every way. Yet there is still something missing — the band’s balls.

The reason Alive or Just Breathing was so great was because of its interlacing of heavy riffs and melody throughout the entire album. As the years went by, so did the riffs and the emphasis switched to a safer sound that casual audiences could enjoy.

Despite all of this, Killswitch Engage is an excellently produced album that sees the band delivering hook after hook. Choruses of songs such as “Starting Over” and “Reckoning” will give fans plenty of tunes to sing along with at live shows.

The opening track, “Never Again,” is one of the better songs on the entire album, teasing the listener with fast riffs and dual guitar harmonies by Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel. The cut also features one of the best guitar solos in the band’s history.

Jones delivers the vocal performance of his career in “The Return,” a softer tune full of clean vocals and a haunting outro that will give fans the chills. “Take Me Away” features a chorus that will remain stuck in listeners’ heads for weeks. Drummer Justin Foley and bassist Mike D’Antonio hold down the rhythm section, but never provide anything too out of the ordinary.

Killswitch Engage will see the band get the commercial success it deserves — it’s a stunning example of what the now tired metal-core genre can produce. Listeners who put off the band after vocalist Jesse Leach left should pick up the album and give it another go — just don’t expect the brute-force riffs that filled Alive or Just Breathing.

Eric’s Picks: “Never Again,” “The Forgotten,” “The Return”

— by Eric Andersen

Jeremih doesn’t deserve birthday sex

Jeremih: Jeremih
* out of *****

Jeremih’s new, self-titled album on Def Jam Records is R&B’s newest addition to the already large collection of shitty music about sex. Jeremih’s content is not only full of bland, recycled lyrics about women, but contains no new, original beats.

The album opens with “That Body,” which is about as insightful as the title suggests with the first lines being extremely poetic, “Her hips wave in the ocean in ways you wouldn’t believe.” The song continues and echoes lines about working “that girl’s body.” The record continues with the lead single, “Birthday Sex,” which is a ludicrous song about a man getting laid because it’s his birthday — “girl you know I don’t need candles and cake, just your body to make birthday sex.” These ridiculous lyrics continue throughout the album, with such songs as “Imma Star” and “My Ride” repeating themselves more times than Andy Samberg holla’s “like a boss.”

Sometimes, artists are able to redeem their awful lyrics with interesting and catchy beats, but not Jeremih. His beats seem to be fresh off the assembly line at R&B’s beat-maker mill. The listener isn’t presented with anything fresh or new, with each song taken from one of Usher’s early albums. The useless music is so pathetic that it will even be looked over by many of the downtown Iowa City clubs.

Jeremih is a worthless representation of what Top 40 has become and signifies a low point in humanity. The lyrics are crap. The beats are shit. The whole album is a joke. In an age when the computer has not only become a prominent musical instrument, but an effective one, Jeremih drops the ball and not only insults enthusiasts of hip-hop and R&B but music fans everywhere.

Eric’s pick, “Birthday Sex”

— by Eric Sundermann

Wait for Me — your new favorite downer

Moby: Wait for Me
** out of *****

Moby’s latest album, Wait for Me, is full of depressed tunes that are enough to bring on a deep slumber by track six. The 16-song compilation is a mess of flowing synthesizers and layers of orchestrated swells, which created an album so somber it is comparable with a very lengthy lullaby.

“Pale Horses,” the second track on the album, follows the opener with an eerie, two-chord progression directly followed by a string and synthesizer arrangement that is nearly identical to the first track. The only difference is its airy and melancholy female vocals. The song showcases electronic beats, and the lyrics “all my family died” are repeated at least eight times, which creates a monotonous tune that lulls the listener to sleep.

The “Pale Horses” formula is used again and again in Wait for Me, with the fourth track, “Study War,” and the seventh track, “Mistake,” leaning heavily on the same strings and synthesizers. Note that the lyrics may not be noticed until the second listen, as the album has been known to induce narcolepsy in the first six songs.

Wait for Me is soaked in gloom and personal misery. The last track that actually contains lyrics is dubbed “Hope is Gone” and proves to be even more morose than the name suggests. Even the instrumentals, combing a sort of synthesized grand beauty with repetitious minor keys, make a listener want to escape a suddenly hopeless and unhappy world, and fall asleep.

The ambience ebbs and flows like a soothing ocean tide but with the cold, icy mist of the Arctic and clinically depressed lyrics. For fear of a spike in suicide rates, the album isn’t recommended as bedtime music, but Wait for Me will challenge NyQuil as a sleep aid and might even prove to be the saving grace for emotional masochists and insomniacs.

Ryan’s Picks, “Pale Horses” and “Slow Light”

— by Ryan Fosmark

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