Friday, January 28, 2011

Review: Still Remains - The Serpent

Band: Still Remains
Album: The Serpent
Year: 2007
Genre: Hard Rock/Metalcore

This album will probably surprise a lot of people who enjoyed the band's first album, Of Love and Lunacy. Not only have Still Remains changed their sound but quite dramatically. Now its far more a mix of hard rock and melodic metalcore where before they were melodic death metal with some metalcore thrown in.

The first track is an instrumental and its quite enjoyable. The Serpent starts with keys and goes shortly before the guitars kick in. Its all a build up as each instrument joins the song.

Ok I have to say, the big problem isnt that the band has introduced hard rock into their style. You know how bands usually do it? They mix their old style with their new influences or they just completely switch to their new sound. But Still Remains half divided the album into 2 musical styles. Half of the album showcases their hard rock sound and the other their melodic metalcore sound.

But dont get me wrong, the hard rock songs are actually good. Well for the most part. A couple of them really stand out, like for example Stay Captive. This song is ultra melodic and TJ Miller showcases his clean vocals that are actually decent and I would even say he could join a rock band and easily get radio play. The guitar play is fluid and not choppy like their metalcore songs on The Serpent.

Another track that displays their talent for writing accessible material is An Undesire Reunion. This one has a little more tendencies towards choppy metalcore riffing but still mixes the hard rock guitar style with this. The chorus is what really makes this song, its the definition of soaring. The verse parts are relatively mellow but it really gains strength musically during the chorus. At the bridge there is even a solo that isnt flashy or technical but still its nice to see them throw it in there.

Then we have the more throw away songs like Maria. Musically the song isnt too bad and is a 4 minute build up getting heavier and heavier as it goes on. Unfortunately lyrically the same 3 or 4 lines are repeated over and over and it just lacks any creativity and imagination. Dancing With The Enemy also seems to lack in those same qualities especially in the chorus. The singing just doesnt fit well with the music and it doesnt flow very well.

Its basically the same with the heavier songs, there are a few good and a few bad throw away tracks. The song Anemia In Your Sheets is my favorite of these. The band puts a lot of effort into the chorus of their songs and it shows here. TJ uses his harsh vocals here and their are a sort of mix of hardcore and death growls. I mentioned the chorus, its monstrous. The keys are playing and are catchy as hell while the rest of the instruments arent especially doing much it cover them but it still just fits very well. There is also quite a bit of lead harmonies scattered pretty liberally through the song.

On the opposite end we have something like Avalanche which starts off with the annoying ass start stop riffing metalcore is infamous for. There are some death growls thrown in here and there though they dont have very much punch or strength to them. The choppy riffs are present through the song and it is just a tired forumula. The only thing it has going for it is the last part of the song with its guitar harmonies that fade into a nice acoustic passage.

Overall The Serpent is just too hit and miss to be fully enjoyable. Individual songs are much more gratifying but there are just too many throw away tracks especially if you arent looking for the softer sound they developed. But there are a couple of redeeming factors, the production is good and the keys dont drown out the music (thankfully) as some bands seem to do. Still, that isnt enough to save an album as inconsistent as this.

Score: 5/10
Standout Track: Anemia In Your Sheets

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