Thursday, September 08, 2011
As Cities Burn -- Come Now Sleep
Objectivity can be tough to hang on to when reviewing art created by those you know. I heard a lot of the songs on Come Now Sleep in their early stages, but I will remain as clinically detached as possible in this review...FUN...YAY! To change things up a bit, I'll review the music and lyrics separately.
MUSIC AND VOCALS: Well, this is what ACB used to sound like:
Your basic metalcore, one of Underoath's many little-brothers. It's not bad, but it sounds like a lot of other bands. This is what they sound like just one album later, on Come Now Sleep:
The outro of the previous song is really the only thing to hint at the music of the latter, which is far more interesting. On Come Now Sleep, As Cities Burn abandon their old metalcore sound for a mix of classic rock and modern experimental stylings. They sound like a completely different band, and they benefit greatly from this. The music is almost always interesting, but if it has a flaw, it's that certain sections go on a bit too long, and can feel a bit drowsy at times, but then again, maybe that's the point considering the title. Considering some of the songs are still pretty agressive, the mix is quite good. The vocals, while not necessarily good in a traditional sense, are nevertheless raw and passionate, and provide almost exactly what is needed. 9/10 for the music and vocals.
LYRICS: Here is where the album runs into some trouble. While I don't agree with some of the theological statements made, some thought and heart obviously went into them. The problem is that the mix of jet-black serious tone and hipsteresque religious musings just doesn't work. The first track, "Contact," comes to the conclusion that either clouds are blocking God's voice from human ears, or that God himself is asleep. This is immediately followed by "Empire," a song about God-given grace, and the futility of being "glorious" on our own...but this is immediately followed by "The Hoard," which tries to further "Empire"'s themes, but just sounds like a snarky excuse for bad behavior, mocking people who try to live right. I get the intent: it's silly to think that one can earn Grace--then again, since when is trying to be a good person not admirable? Grace might be wasted on those who think they don't need it, but it's not given to those who don't ask for it, either. Similarly heady themes follow, the most bloat coming in "Clouds" (an obvious shoutback to the lyrics of the opening track), which begins with someone asking the question "Who do you think God is, and what do you think God is?" and then people on the street actually attempting to answer the question. The band plays over their slightly-muted responses, then ACB's vocalist comes in with the lines, "Is your God really God? Is my God really God? I think our God isn't God if he fits inside our heads." Unfortunately, this comes off just as pretentiously as it sounds, like ACB is that annoying Freshman in your Philosophy class who just read Siddhartha for the first time and wants to tell the class about it. The ponderous nature of the lyrics just gets too heavy, and any moment of levity would have helped. Around the time the band reach album closer, "Timothy," a thirteen-minute tribute to a friend who committed suicide, it's impossible not to feel emotionally exhausted. By that point a dance with Muppets down a sunny street lined with lollipops would barely be enough to bring a a smile. 5/10 for the lyrics. 7/10 Overall.
2007 Tooth & Nail
1. Contact 6:51
2. Empire 3:27
3. The Hoard 3:54
4. This Is It, This Is It 3:40
5. Clouds 5:21
6. New Sun 4:34
7. Tides 3:05
8. Wrong Body 5:47
9. Our World Is Grey 5:57
10. Timothy 12:48