For Fans Of
First impressions are a hell of a thing.
In an interview with Official PlayStation Magazine Australia in 2007, one of the developers from Starbreeze Studios, the developers behind The Darkness, uttered one of the greatest nuggets of wisdom I’ve ever heard. Now, this was nine years ago and I’m paraphrasing slightly, but this guy basically said that “If the first five minutes of a game doesn’t make you want to play through the rest of it, then that game has failed you”. Harsh words, maybe, but I think that this litmus test can be applied to lots of things; from video games, movies, books, and especially to albums.
If the first, let’s say, two or three songs of a record don’t want to make you push onto the end or at the very least, come back around for multiple listens, then the band has indeed failed you. Or at the very least, the album just isn’t for you. As it stands, I must say that with their new album, ‘Grief‘, Alteras have failed you and they’ve got an album that most definitely isn’t for me. Becuase after the first two lifeless post-hardcore songs that are ‘Broke‘ and ‘Could Ever Love‘, the idea of pressing stop and listening to something else, anything else was like a sweet release to me; like throwing a life jacket to a man drowning at sea.
So first impressions were not too good. Hell, the very idea of having to do repeat listens of ‘Grief‘ for this review felt like an oppressing chore, looming over my head like a dark cloud until I dragged my ears back through this record. In full honesty, I was going to do this review about two or so weeks ago but I just couldn’t bring myself to listen to this 11-track test in mediocrity again.
Musically, I’d say that these guys are a very poor man’s Silverstein, but to say so is an insult to Silverstein. Alteras carry with them a very typical post-hardcore/lightweight metalcore sound that brings to mind other B-class bands like Our Last Night and far more popular scene groups like A Day To Remember & Sleeping With Sirens (the vocals here are also of a very high register, too). So, you know, they’re nothing that different or that original, but you know what? A band doesn’t need to be different or original to be good, their music just needs to be engaging and fun, but ‘Grief‘ isn’t engaging nor is it even that fun to listen to. It’s an album that shows a band wearing their influences not just on their sleeves, but across their whole damn bodies. It’s essentially a copycat release of 2000’s alternative/post-hardcore that’s been far too dated for at least five years now.
I never once felt the impact of the song’s transitions or their breakdowns. The riffs and grooves of the instrumentation didn’t once make me want to nod my head or even tap my foot along. The melodies are just not as infectious or as catchy as they should be and the lyrics didn’t stick in my head. If they did, they were for the wrong reasons entirely! The acoustic songs, while actually quite decent, tended to be so cheesy that anyone with lactose intolerance should stick well clear of them just to be safe.
Removing any and all genres from the equation, and unless you’re sitting down with a record to piss away a night with a drink in your hand, I don’t think an album should make you check your clock every few minutes just to see how bloody long is left of this ordeal. The lyrics really didn’t help matters, either.
Lyrical themes of young adult angst and hopeful determination are all well and good, but alternative music has just had so many bands overplay these lyrical ideas of post-millennium teenage heartache, cheesy relationship songs, and hardship that I’m just numb when bands like Alteras try their hand at it. Now, that’s not their fault, of course, but they haven’t tried to do anything interesting or different here and these lyrics leave me cold. I’d say that one of worst lyrical offenders here is the line, “You and karma sure have a lot in common, ha ha ha/you’re both a bitch!“.
Oh shit, be careful everybody, you might cut yourselves on how edgy these guys are! Seriously, 2009 Asking Alexandria called, they want their shite lyrics back.
While I am being very harsh here, I will ease off a little to say that ‘Something More‘ and ‘Can’t Go Back‘ are really solid tunes and are easily the best songs available on the whole effort. Plus, the three bonus acoustic songs that my copy of the album came with weren’t half bad either.
Look, Alteras really are competent musicians (especially their drummer), and I’m sure that they are lovely blokes as well. But being competent musicians doesn’t necessarily mean you can write engaging music. I mean, just look at the monotonous hard rock anthems that Black Veil Brides, who are really good musicians, incessantly squirted out between 2010-2014; too much, too soon, without the diversity and engagement to back it up.
But you know, maybe if Alteras were a band ten or so years ago, Victory Records would be having an absolute field day with them and the band would probably have had much more success with their music (with thousands in unpaid royalties, one can assume). However, in 2016 this album feels like the dated, mediocore musical equivalent of Myspace, and nobody wants that.
“Grief’ isn’t an abomination of a record, the kind of terrible album that will make your iTunes library delete itself in order to get away from said album. No, this new album from Alteras is just a severely fucking average album and it’s stuck in that horrible middle ground between “outstanding” and “outstandingly shit”. So simply put, album no good.
- Could Ever Love
- Everything You Wanted
- After All
- Something More
- Black Box
- Can’t Go Back
- Oh, Tragedy
- Out Of Reach
‘Grief’ is out now. Listen at your own peril.