It seems that the most popular or memorable bands are a combination of two completely different genres. Arguably the most popular band in the scene today is A Day To Remember who have had massive success by combining pop punk songs with hardcore/metalcore influences. So it comes as no surprise when the next huge band is going to have a basis in just as an unlikely mixture. RnB and Metalcore.
Bursting out from the scene a scant year after Tyler Carter and Michael Bohn left Woe, Is Me, Issues released the popular Black Diamonds EP. After another single release, the band is back with their first full length album and are ready to take over this music scene. In what is one of the most anticipated albums of the year, Issues has delivered not only an excellent effort and evolution from their previous material, but an enjoyable album on all fronts.
The record beings with “Sad Ghost” which incorporates a similar sound to the Black Diamonds EP. Featuring some of the heaviest verses on the album and one of the strongest choruses on the album, this is sure to be a crowd pleaser live. “Life of a Nine” is a blistering attack/plea for a friend who has turned to the life of prostitution, and the repercussions of having turned to such. “The Langdon House” takes on a very creepy atmospheric sound during the verses to great effect. The album really kicks into high gear after the brief interlude with the songs “Stringray Affliction” and “Never Lose Your Flames”. Already huge hits live, these are going to be a permanent fixture in all of the band's future setlists. “Personality Cult” has already been adopted as a fan favorite track. “Tears on the Runway, Pt. 2” (expect part one on Tyler Carter's solo album) is one of the softest songs on the album, featuring a beautiful intro and chorus from Nylo. The song is one of the most successful at combining the RnB influences with heavier influences, and this is definitely a sound I would like to see the band expand upon on the future.
Despite being a musically diverse album, the content itself is very consistent. The traditional instrumentation is often very simple, instead serving as a back drop for the two talented vocalists to take the forefront. However there are several noticeable moments with the electronic elements, which add to the thick and atmospheric sound in all the songs. There are almost always multiple layers of music, and even after listening through the album several times, my ear will catch something new. Whether it is a little scratch interlude or an interesting bass line, the band always has something going on in the background, but it never feels crowded.
The vocal hooks are plentiful throughout the entire album. As mentioned previously, the big draw of the band is the incomparable Tyler Carter who's trademark soulful voice is well known within this music scene. He's never sounded better than he does on Issues, and to great effect. Whether he is implementing a soulful RnB tone on “Late” or the aggressive rap style vocals on “Life of a Nine”, his voice manages to grab your attention. Michael Bohn also has had a big vocal upgrade as his high screams no longer sound weak and his mids are much more full. Adding this to his already memorable lows, the two have a dynamic partnership that could only be forged from all of the years of working together.
The lyrics are often hit or miss. While a song like “The Settlement” is a powerful reminder of the hurt and pain of divorce, others like “Mad At Myself” contain little to differentiate it from the mindless pop on your local Top 40 station. However, with the finale of “Disappear (Remember When)” the album hits it's emotional peak. Closing with the lyrics “Remember when I didn’t need you? Well I need you now. To hold my head up high, say 'it’s all better child'. Remember when I was alone and crying out? You will be missed. But I know that you’re all better now.” A tribute to a fallen friend, the lyrics are delivered by a church choir to stunning effect. Despite having heard it innumerable times, it never fails to deliver chills and have an emotional impact.
While not a perfect debut, the band has crafted something exciting and fresh. This is going to be a big year for Issues, and I am excited to see what we get from the band next.
Check out Issues on the American Dream Tour with fellow acts Bring Me The Horizon, Of Mice & Men, letlive. and Northlane. Issues will also be playing the entire 2014 Vans Warped Tour.