For Fans Of
I won’t sugarcoat it: I’ve been a BIG fan of Gideon for a very long time now. Back when I first started getting into heavier music, Gideon was one of the first bands I discovered, and they have consistently been in my playlist rotations ever since. I was enthralled by 2012’s ‘Milestone,’ and gained even further love for the band with 2014’s ‘Calloused.’ Ever since then, I have closely followed Gideon along their journey as a band. I have watched them go from Christian hardcore, to metalcore, to almost beatdown territory on their 2019 EP ‘No Love/No One,’ which I thought was easily some of their best work yet. They have a real knack for slightly twisting their sound on every new release, and somehow improving with each album. However, I never thought I’d see these guys go full-on nu-metalcore, which is exactly what they’ve done on ‘Out of Control.’ The question is, does it work? Well, yes and no.
‘Out of Control’ is quite a confusing ride for me, personally. On one hand, it disappointed me quite a bit on first listen, as I thought it was a major step down from what were arguably the best releases in their career: ‘Cold’ and ‘No Love/No One.’ Nonetheless, after multiple listens and a slight adjustment period, I’ve come to find this to be a solid effort that sees Gideon experimenting more than ever, with some moments working extremely well and others falling a bit flat. First of all, lead single ‘TAKE ME’ is arguably the most “Gideon” sounding song of the whole album, bundling aggressive hardcore chugs and screams with ambient cleaner guitars and building up to a massive pitch-shifted breakdown. Meanwhile, other songs like ‘OUTLAW’ toy with a southern twangy, nu-metal sound, having some of their catchiest guitar work in years. It’s these moments of aggression and high energy momentum where the nu-metalcore sound works for Gideon.
‘BITE DOWN’ blasts everything in its path with beefy down-tuned guitars, heavy-gauge-action bass lines, and a bigger emphasis on groove, all as vocalist Daniel McWhorter shows off his talents with rap-rock screamed verses. ‘Out of Control’ also finds great strength in its use of ambient keys and subtle guitar leads, having standout moments like the beautiful reverb-soaked xylophone-like instrument used at the end of ‘SOUTHWIND,’ which makes you feel like you’re exploring some undiscovered cave system.
These moments pop up every now and then throughout ‘Out of Control,’ not often feeling overbearing nor too stretched out to feel lacking either. The ending of the absolutely stellar ‘DENIAL’ is another example, showing off these borderline unsettling clean guitars as the track comes to a close. This song, in particular, is the easy standout for me, what with its blazing pinch harmonics and extremely heavy riffing that get stuck in your head. I challenge anyone to just try and not destroy everything in your near vicinity when McWhorter shouts “this hell won’t take you to heaven” and that perfect chorus kicks in. Another massive highlight on ‘DENIAL’ in particular is how it showcases Jake Smelley’s excellent drumming, which is the strongest it’s ever been; it’s obvious that he’s stepped up his game these past few years.
With all that being said, I had a few problems with this record, as much as I really wanted to love it outright. ‘Out of Control’ has a few too many duds where the weirdness and experiments aren’t executed all that well . As ‘2 CLOSE’ might just be the worst Gideon song ever written, and I’m not exaggerating; this track is so underwhelming and ridiculously repetitive to the point of annoyance. It’s so bogged down by playing the same three notes over and over that not even a Drew York feature could salvage it. ‘LOW LIFE’ also comes off as cheesy and uninteresting, focusing too much on making unnecessary noise rather than actually feeling like a structured, cohesive piece. The downright strange instrumental hip-hop interlude ‘STYLE’ sticks out like a sore thumb, finding no place to fit in. The groove is interesting, sure, but it takes you completely out of the listening experience, feeling more like an interruption than an addition.
Another drawback that drags the quality of ‘Out of Control’ significantly is the inconsistency of the lyricism. One moment, you get well thought out and emotional cuts like ‘TAKE ME,’ which features possibly my favorite Gideon passage of all time as Daniel powerfully bellows “I feel nothing, just a ghost of what used to be. Cut me deep so I can feel you move.” But suddenly, this album completely shifts and gives you corny tough-guy lyrics that are downright comedic, with songs like ‘SLEEP’ featuring cringe-inducing lines like “and my mama ain’t raise no bitch, I think I’ve had enough of your shit boy, I’m done.” Jesus. The overall theme of the lyricism is quite admirable, though, with the band boldly denouncing those who are now criticizing them for dropping their former religious themes. ‘LIFE WITHOUT’ offers the unique take of the loss of faith through near-death experiences, while ‘DENIAL’ presents a great argument against those who let religion control their each and every decision. Those songs and their words work, but the quality of the lyricism on ‘Out of Control’ is a confusing mixed bag, sadly.
While ‘Out of Control’ isn’t quite what I expected from Gideon, I applaud them for taking their sound in a strange direction, even if I didn’t enjoy every single moment of it. I firmly believe that if they continue down this route, they could really improve these nu-metal ideas on future releases, eventually mastering their vision. While the majority of the genius behind ‘Out of Control’ is heard on the back half, – ‘LIFE WITHOUT,’ ‘DENIAL,’ and the absolutely wonderful title track – there are moments spread throughout where listeners will find something to admire. Gideon strived for something different here, discovering some of the greatest but also worst directions for their sound in the process. There’s certainly room to improve on this style moving forward, but to be quite honest, ‘Out of Control’ did leave me hoping that the next release will sound more like ‘No Love/No One.’
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‘Out Of Control’ is out October 11th: