Issues - Black Diamond Album Review

rating: 2.5

The debut EP for Issues is here and it's a bit of a reunion for former Woe, Is Me vocalists Michael Bohn and Tyler Carter. But is it a pleasant reunion? Considering it's shortness, the EP doesn't take long to get started, though it's difficult to pinpoint exactly where the group is looking to jump off. There's a lot going on here, genre wise and things get a little muddled from the get go. The brief title track "Black Diamonds" gives the impression that what you're in for is going to be a slightly hip hop, dubstep influenced metalcore album, but "King of Amarillo" hits like a heavy metal train sort of casting all of those previous assumptions to the wind. Bohn and Carter sound good together, but the track's pacing is hard to follow and shifts between metal and punk rather un-seamlessly. Unfortunately the EP as a whole suffers from this issue as there's so many sounds, genres, and things it's apparent that the group wanted to accomplish that it lacks a clear and distinct sound. "The Worst of Them" and "Princeton Ave." are the standouts, especially the former. I found myself nodding along and moving as the track flows the most naturally out of the entire album, but it's not enough to make up for what the remaining tracks are lacking; focus. I think more than anything the album comes off as a bit experimental, but not coherently experimental. It sounds a like a short album of b-sides, unreleased songs, or demos, which would lead us to think, "Ah, I can see why these were cut from the released edition." But these aren't the songs that are cut. By no means is it a bad album. Again, those two stand out tracks really help make it an overall pleasant listen, even "Love, Sex, Riot" has its moments, but with all the tracks it sounds as if Bohn's unclean vocals are misplaced. The tracks are tighter and more focused without the "metal" aspects. That might not be what a lot of folks want to hear, as the hard hitting portions are what fans crave, but here they sort of strip the songs or any originiality they may have acheived by reducing them to unfocused noice. "Her Monologue" stands out especially as the track of ultimate confusion. It begins well, but it wants to do so much with so many different genres that ultimately it falls a little flat. There's breakdown moments where what you thought you were listening to becomes something else entirely and unfortunately it isn't for the better. As for a debut EP, Black Diamonds may be exactly what you'd expect: a new band working to find their sound. But as opposed to working with something they know well, starting specific and building up from there, they start big and try to make sense out of the thousand piece puzzle rather than beginning with the 250 piece one. It's definitely worth a listen but no track will stick with you after it spins down and no chorus or lyric is going to leap out and keep you singing it even after the headphones are off. Issues Black Diamonds is available now.
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Actor, writer, filmmaker, stand up comic, jack of all trades...hopefully master of some. Living the dream, whatever that is, in LA while always sitting in traffic. He's also the co-creator of the comedy group NSFYM (Not Safe For Your Mom).