Yes, I set up a metal site because it’s my main obsession in life. Yes, I have a shaved head, lip ring, and wear big black coats and boots. Yes, my house is littered with books on black magick, Satanism, and other aspects of the occult. I am also a massive not-very-closeted Darren Hayes (of Savage Garden fame) fan. This may go some way to explain why I fell in love with the debut Woe, Is Me album, and subsequently, the EP ‘Black Diamonds’ by the band Issues, formed after the melodic singer Tyler Carter left the band Woe, Is Me. Sadly it did mean that Woe, Is Me went on to create an utterly forgettable second album with a less interesting new vocalist, but if ‘Black Diamonds’ was anything to go by, Issues were a band to look out for should they go on to make a full length album (which they have—hurray!).
So quick recap: Woe, Is Me were (their second album shied away from this mix preferring a sound more akin to a sub-par A Day To Remember) a djent-esque band who incorporated melodic vocals in the style of R&B, a refreshing change in a largely thoroughly-boring genre. You can check out their best song here—I still sing that song in the shower, like, a lot; I expect my partner to recreate the Psycho shower scene any day now. Issues took that sound and made the heavier bits more pop-punk/hardcore, resulting in a great little EP you could bop along to at all times of the day.
Interestingly, the new album has a lot more experimentation on that sound than I expected, making a turntable and nu-metal hooks more of a ‘thing’. And fuck me does it work. Club synths, churning guitars, DJ extravagances akin to Linkin Park’s track ‘Cure For The Itch’, and R&B offshoots left, right, and centre. There’s also more of a punch to the heavier aspects, making it difficult not to think back to that first Woe, Is Me album. It’s hard not to get swept along on the whole thing after a few listens; I love a good bop (that’s a thing, right?), and this album is perfect for that.
Admittedly, this album could be easily swept aside as a tween/Hot Topic waste of time, but I doubt you’d be reading this far if you weren’t semi-interested in this sort of sound. If you want a nice summary of the album, you can’t go wrong with their single ‘Stingray Affliction’. I know for a fact many metal purists will absolutely despise this band; it’s not metal, it’s pop music for mall rats. Eh, I find this sort of thing boring to argue; I’m quite happy to dance round my house to Savage Garden, then switch to Aborted by the next song. If you look back at albums like Hybrid Theory with a grimace, you almost certainly won’t enjoy bands like Issues, or another band I adore, I See Stars (‘New Demons’ was one of my favourite releases of last year). Personally, I really enjoy genre crossing albums, so Issues strikes a chord with me, in the same way that Linkin Park’s criminally underrated ‘Reanimation’ did.
If you like your metalcore to have some bubble gum hooks, sing-along melodies, and unapologetic pop influences, you could do far worse than Issues’ self titled new album. I, for one, will definitely be listening to this album a lot this year.
TL;DR: Brutal death metal is fantastic, but sometimes it’s nice to have something ludicrously poppy, and this album has that in spades. Great fun, but bound to anger those who only dabble in the heavier side of metal, or rarely stray from its borders (sod them).