REVIEW: DEVOUR THE DAY – “S.O.A.R.”
Very few albums that I hear begin with an introductory vocal so quickly after the music kicks in on the first track, but that’s exactly the case with “S.O.A.R”, the opening song on the new album by the American hard rock/nu-metal band Devour the Day. From the perspective of someone who is unaware with this band’s musical output up until this point, this track gives off vibes of Linkin Park as much as it does Killswitch Engage. One thing that leaps out as being particularly poignant from the get-go is the quality of the production, which is often a forgotten factor to an album’s quality and success.
“Step Aside” continues on the electronic tinged theme heard on the opening track, but melds it with an impressively catchy stomp-like groove which is presented in both the vocal lines and the backing instrumentation by the percussion section of bassist Joey Walser and drummer Ronnie Farris. The lyrics, however, do tread into the land of generic at points with the repeated “Out of sight, out of mind” line being used, which most of us have heard before. The occasional blasts of the music speeding up are very welcome, making “Step Aside” a fine continuation on from “SOAR”. It is moments like this which make one hope that a band can carry on the trend of quality music that they have got nailed down. Track 3 entitled “The Bottom” follows, and gives off bits and pieces of bands such as Young Guns and Thirty Seconds to Mars but with its own unique twist on proceedings. It can be a good thing when bands wear their influences and musical contemporaries on their sleeve, but the line is crossed when you can’t tell the difference between the progenitor and the band who is taking inspiration from what came before them.
“Heaven” explores a much more melodic tone for its instrumental intro before the guitar distortion makes itself known once again. The vocals of lead singer Blake Allisonare difficult to interpret over the louder guitar rhythms on this track, which demonstrates a reduction in production quality since the beginning of the album. Nonetheless, “Heaven” is another anthem in the making for the band who seem to be at their best crafting alternative rock songs with just the right amount of melody for them to be clean, but enough heavy instrumentation for them to still rock as much as they deserve to.
The half-way point on S.O.A.R is marked by the record’s fifth track “Quicksand”, which begins as a soothing ballad-type track before bouncing back into similar musical themes heard on previous tracks. It is at this point that I hope the album suddenly diverts into a different direction on its remaining songs because while I do enjoy the sound that Devour the Day have going for them on this album, it does become repetitive when they appear to stick to one idea and are possibly afraid to do something else.The guitar solo about two-thirds in has lots in common with Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour’s playing in terms of the tone of the instrument, which is a bonus for sure. Following “Quicksand” is the sixth song on the album, “Fake it to Make it”, which opens with distant sounds of chaos before rocketing straight into a surprisingly pop-punk rampage of musical ideas. Compared to all of the previous tracks on the album, “Fake it to Make it” borrows heavily from traditional pop-rock conventions but with Allison’s familiar vocals over the top of the entire composition.
“Lightning in the Sky” is where the album reaches its final act, and features the catchiest drum rhythm heard on the record since “Step Aside”, which pleases me since it shows that the band are back to relying on their better musical ideas rather than trying to make something uninventive work, which never works. The opening riff of “Something Real” has too much in common with Dio’s “Holy Diver”, which should raise an eyebrow of those who also recognise the blatant similarity. The lyrical standpoint on the choruses essentially revolve around repeated lines, which admittedly do become tiresome after a little while.
The penultimate track on Devour the Day’s S.O.A.R is called “Golden City”, and it retains the catchy quality heard on previous songs but doesn’t do a lot to differentiate itself creatively from much of the record’s other offering. For me, “Golden City” is one of the best songs to be found on S.O.A.R, and it is nice that this far into an album that a band can still supply the goods in one way or another. Rounding off the album is the closing track “Save Yourself”. The vocal rhythms on this track has evidently been intentionally lined up with the instrumentation of the band in order to make the song sound as clean and polished as possible, but it would be nice to hear a bit of edge since this is meant to be dirty alternative rock music.
In reflection, S.O.A.R by Devour the Day is an album for fans of Young Guns, Linkin Park,Crown the Empire, Thirty Seconds to Mars, and the more recent work by Bring Me the Horizon, as well as those who enjoy general rock music with an electronic tinge to it.