Metalcore is as metalcore does.
That was the download file size of Driven To The Verge’s debut album, ‘Transitions’, which was very kindly sent my way courtesy of their vocalist Luke Barrows. I always like being sent lossless files of a release for review - whether it’s in WAV format or another - as I'm a real audio snob at heart. But Jesus H. Christ, that download took a long fucking time with my rural Victorian broadband speed. Anyway, now that my shite intro is done for this review, let’s get stuck in with Driven To The Verge’s debut full-length.
Straight up, it’s not good. It's not very good at all.
See, Driven To The Verge perform a style of metalcore that’s as generic as you would ever expect from an Australian band within this widely stunted genre of today. This was evident from the first time I saw/heard the band perform at The Evelyn Hotel one time a couple years back, and their metalcore sound - in tone, aesthetic, and musical delivery - hasn't changed nor progressed at all since then. As evident by this average full-length.
For musically and sonically, 'Transitions' sounds exactly how you think it does.
Some actually decent clean guitar work and cliche, "emotive" melodic metal guitar leads sit over the top of basic-ass chugs, typical hardcore/metalcore rhythms with the usual double kick blasts and same-same breakdowns. There's the bass that's just there, doing very little else bar occasionally having the mid-range body peak out of the (rather clean) mix when the guitars drop away. The throaty screams, mid-range yells and low growls of Barrows sit front and centre of each song, and the occasional clean singing moment and gang vocals appear because of fucking course they do. The ride bell hits just before a breakdown, the title track's programmed drums during the intro, the EQ filter swell heard on 'Persistence', the occasional inclusion of pianos/keys that will be syphoned off to a backing track for their live shows, the 101 metalcore song structures overall; this 10-track release is nothing but a metalcore checklist of everything you'd expect from genre over the past decade.
Not awful, but not great either, so this review's score is me merely splitting the difference. For when it's good; it's good. But when it's bad, it's bad.
It also doesn't matter that the band are solid players at their respective roles either, as the actual songwriting in which their respective performances carry just don't stack up nor stand out.
[caption id="attachment_1092535" align="alignnone" width="760"] Driven To The Verge. The verge of what? Who knows.[/caption]
Now, apparently, this record's overarching concept is one of change, of growth and of transformation. When I consider that supposed fact, I can't help but think that Driven To The Verge would have done very well to take that idea further than the thematic stage. In the final song, 'Departed', more so than any other song on offer, the theme of a transitional period in the band's own lives comes across clear and sharp as the Barrows effectively screams about the loss of a loved one. And the solemn pianos of the outro add weight to this. The loss of family member or a close friend is a difficult fucking period for anyone, and the vocal and instrumental delivery works here quite well; this is the true moment that their generic metalcore sound all clicks into fine place. Even though 'Departed' is this album's swansong, it at least wraps it all up on a strong note. But even so, and at the high risk of me shitting all over at that personal emotion and catharsis, it saddens me greatly that this idea of growth, change and transformation was not matched musically by this Melbourne quintet.
If you're a seasoned and highly likely weary listener of this genre, you won't find that "hot" new band or that "breath of fresh air" album here with Driven To The Verge and their debut LP. However, I can see that if you're relatively new to this genre or are (somehow) a metalcore die-hard who only sweats bands like this, you're bound to like 'Transitions'.
But for little old me, 'Transitions' is a generic record and worse still, it lacks the solid songs that could at least back up such generic music. Besides, bands like Driven To The Verge are a dime a fucking dozen now. Much like Kings. Or For What It's Worth. Or 2005-2007 era of Parkway Drive. Or Feed Her To The Sharks. Or I Killed The Prom Queen. Or Ocean Sleeper. Or even now defunct bands like Hand Of Mercy and Confession; the list just goes on and on and on.
Sadly, it is on that ever-growing list that Driven To The Verge will be forgotten unless an actual change occurs, and soon.
Simply put, 'Transitions' is the best worst metalcore album I’ve heard in 2017, and that’s got to count for something, right? Right…?
2. What You've Become
5. Rule Breaker
7. I Am Deception
9. Absent Eyes
‘Transitions’ is out right now. Buy it here if metalcore is your jam.