For Fans Of
Hey, do you remember guitarist Ben and drummer Joe Lionetti? If those two names sound vaguely familiar to you, then that’s because these two brothers used to be central, founding members of Emmure. However, that duo ditched Emmure and old mate Frankie Palmeri in 2009 and now in 2017, we see the brother’s new band, Lakeshore (who sound nothing like their old band) taking their first steps with their debut EP ‘41‘ dropping on April 21st.
There has been some decent hype around the kinda-metalcore/all-around post-hardcore Connecticut-based Lakeshore in their native U.S., with coverage from big sites such as Lambgoat, The Sickest (*barf*) and Alternative Press, among others. And for what is essentially a brand new band, these five guys have gotten off of the ground very quickly in just a couple of months; scoring decent media coverage, sitting at just over 7K likes on Facebook in nearly no time flat, and have 18K views on most recent single ‘Kings (The Reawakening)‘ as well as 82K on their first single/music video, ‘History‘. Pretty decent numbers for a band who has publically set up shop in just this year alone!
However, one must also remember that a currently “hot” band right now such as I Prevail score both high album and high ticket sales along with a massive social media presence, yet they’re a fucking atrocious band! So, with those external numbers aside and the proof that even audible Zika virus can sell well, how do Lakeshore and their ‘41‘ EP fare?
Well, firstly, maybe I shouldn’t beat around the bush. I mean, you have eyes, and unless you’re a skim reader (deep, deep shame upon you if you are, you heathen) then you’ve seen the 41/100 score above so you know that this EP is gettin’ a flogging of sorts from your friendly neighbourhood Sievers. And oh, how I shall deliver ye thy flogging.
Speaking generally, ‘41‘ is a very bland release, and while it’s definitely not the worst release of 2017 neither is it one of the better ones. However, perhaps that verdict is actually for the worst? For if you fall into that average/bland/mediocre middle ground, then there’s a higher chance that you’ll be forgotten about and pushed aside in favour of the things that people hated and loved in that particular year. So far in 2017, I’ve loved the new releases from Ocean Grove, The Great Old Ones, Lodz, IEatHeartAttacks, Teen Daze, as well as Emmure, among a few others. On the flipside, for example, I hated both Suicide Silence’s new album and Ocean Sleeper’s ‘Six Feet Down‘ EP. Yet once the end of 2017 rolls around to usher in the inevitable 2018, I’ll sure as shit remember both Suicide Silence’s career killing release and Ocean Sleeper’s wet fart of an EP.
For the wrong reasons, sure, but I’ll be able to recall them at the very least. Though, I can’t say the same for Lakeshore and their conviction-less, uninspiring EP, which I’ll most likely forget about over the next eight or so months.
Across this EP’s six proper songs and its two filler interludes (the airy, piano-fuelled ‘Taking…’ and the ‘Welcome To Oz’ instrumental, complete with Wizard Of Oz samples) Lakeshore have taken the generic yet trendy route of easily digestible-rock-meeting-post-hardcore; with big choruses aiming high and heavy palm-muted chugs, churning low end and the occasional breakdown skirting away underneath. So yes, it’s nothing new and it’s also nowhere near as good or as original as some outlets, Lakeshore themselves, and the team behind this band would lead you to believe.
However, the band’s instrumentals – their varying layers, how they’re all delivered, the overall structures they create – though not ground-breakingly technical nor jaw-droppingly impressive, are still solid. Plus, the EP’s tight production and decent mix back those performances up really well. The slower and melodically cascading nature of the almost-proggy ‘Control‘ really shows the group flexing their instrumental muscles well, namely with its solid pace, nice atmospherics and the guitar work on offer. ‘Control‘ is also the only song out of the eight that I truly enjoyed and liked; one that I may not completely forget about come December 2017. But while the instrumentals are all fine, it’s the vocals and their uninspired nature that holds this EP beneath the terrible, choking waters of mediocrity.
Vocally, there’s essentially no screaming present (bar one key song which I’ll get to later) and it’s basically clean singing across the whole board here. Which is no bad thing, of course, but goddamnit, some added screaming or some deeper vocal variety would’ve really helped out things! As Lakeshore singer, Shawn Adams, has a rather limited range to him, opting for the same old uninteresting dynamic approaches and overall timbres on each song, sometimes armed with very few actual notes too. The most egregious examples of this are ‘Kings (The Reawakening)‘ and opener ‘Future (To The Fans)‘.
I understand that Adams is keeping safely within his own vocal range – whether it be for fear of recording something that he/the band feels he cannot consistently perform live, not wanting to overdo himself, or because he just cannot simply go anywhere else vocally. (Maybe all of the above?) And while he occasionally does bring out varying pitches here and there, it’s nowhere near frequent or strong enough to improve matters. While Adams isn’t a bad or terrible singer per say, his underwhelming range, dull, conviction-less delivery and the uninspiring lyrics he has to work with only exacerbate the band’s abysmally low levels of emotion and engagement. Because when I listen to Lakeshore, I don’t feel a single fucking thing but indifference half of the time.
In this style of heavy music, like many other genres, the vocals are one of the key ingredients for your music to work well. And when the vocals don’t have the required range or don’t land right or hard enough, it can let the whole release down. Which is exactly the case here with this bland EP.
As was quickly mentioned earlier, the most glaring example of all this is this EP’s heaviest and bounciest song, ‘Kings (The Reawakening)’.
This track somehow still underwhelms despite featuring both Misery Signals’ Karl Schubach and Jessie “Danza” Freeland of the Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza providing guest vocals in the song’s final moments. This final section of ‘Kings‘ is the best part of the entire song and perhaps the whole EP, save for ‘Control.’ But this song is also an example of what I’d like now like to pen as: “How To Underuse Awesome Vocalists When They Guest On Your Band’s Shitty Song 101”. (I’ll try and think of a better, more concise title in time, but for now, that’ll do.) It should be a crime that when you have two great vocalists such as Freeland and Schubach featuring on your band’s song – which should make it one of your better tracks – that one simply comes away from it thinking “Wait, that was it?!“. I mean, come on, as if you wouldn’t provide the appropriate length and sections to let two such powerhouse vocalists do their truly awesome thang, improving your band’s sound at the same time no less. Because again, in the case of securing both Freeland and Schubach, why the fuck wouldn’t you?! It just boggles my mind, really.
[Also regarding the feature spots, I’ve seen a handful of comments online saying we should all “enjoy the moment” as Misery Signals and Danza are both stagnant right now, meaning we’ll rarely hear Schubach and Freeland outside of guest spots. Which is just adopting the Keiji Inafune approach of it’s “better than nothing”, and is an absolutely fucking asinine stance to take.]
Guitarist Ben Lionetti also stated in a recent track-by-track that ‘Kings (The Reawakening)’ is dedicated to Mitch Lucker, saying, “Kings was a song I had an idea for almost as a joke at first, we didn’t have any real heavy bouncy songs on the album so I started laying guitars and drums down then once it kind of came to life I was like woah ok this could be cool, for some reason I had the idea to wrap the lyrics around the time I had spent with Mitch Lucker and Suicide Silence since that was a very defining time in my life/career. It eventually morphed into just a fun heavy track capturing the essence of things I learned from Mitch as well as giving it our own personal message.”
Look, that’s great and all, and while the song does truly seem in good will towards a deceased friend, there’s no actual reference to Mitch Lucker nor Suicide Silence’s music in that song’s lyrics nor in its accompanying music video, making the intended dedication seem kinda secondary; stripping it somewhat of its actual meaning and impact. (Unless we’re going to really reach here and say that Lucker’s this “king” because his band once put out an album called ‘The Black Crown‘?) I know I’m going to look and sound like a royal arsehole in saying this but it just feels like Lionetti and Lakeshore pushed this song out to the world in honour of the late Suicide Silence vocalist just solely for the sake of it. Almost by Ben’s own words, not mine.
Besides, Lakeshore doesn’t sound anything like Suicide Silence, so it’s not like their taking musical cues from them for this song, anyway.
I’m suddenly reminded of Northlane’s ‘Paragon‘, which was written for the late Architects guitarist, Tom Searle from the very onset of his death last year. Why that particular song worked so well is because ‘Paragon‘ actually referenced Architects’ releases, and it’s apparent that Northlane’s music (early on, especially) took influence from Architects and that Searle really had an impact on both Josh Smith’s and Jon Deiley’s guitar playing. Also, Northlane and UNFD didn’t widely fucking flaunt that song’s honourable dedication in their press releases and emails like this recent Lakeshore single has been presented lately!
So, how does Lakeshore and their ‘41‘ EP fare? Very poorly.
Okay, look, I implore you to check out caution:thieves recent ‘Songs From The Great Divide’ EP for a great example of how to cut through the shit and deliver a damn solid EP. Rather than experiencing Lakeshore’s subpar exercise in boredom that is their ’41’ EP.
Oh, and before I sign this review off, as far as Emmure and these band members is concerned, Lakeshore’s insipid song ‘History’ is apparently about Ben and Joe’s time in Emmure, yet it’s nowhere near as juicy, as detailed or as biting as you’d think it would be. Lakeshore instead opted to take the high road, generalise the song’s lyrics to the point of being utterly watered down, and have aimed to be the bigger men in what I can’t help but feel was a missed opportunity. Because as if you wouldn’t push that angle as a band gimmick early on, not unlike what many wrestlers do in their careers. But then again… this band managed to fuck up having both Karl Schubach and Jesse Freeland on the same song, so I can’t say I’m surprised.
1. Heart (To The Fans)
5. Welcome To Oz
6. Kings (The Reawakening)
8. Pure Imagination
‘41’ is out on April 21st.
Now, was it a bit cheeky of me to give this EP a 41/100? Yeah, maybe but then again, that score fits ’41’ best and that’s around what I’d give it without it being titled ’41’. Also, I have no clue why it’s titled that.