EVERGREEN TERRACE STICK TO THEIR BORING GUNS ON ALMOST HOME
There’s a sad, interesting desperation to a lot of new metalcore, especially the material released by bands that were doing it before it got over-saturated. A sense of eleventh hour panic has set in, and the guys who once had it made on Victory, Prosthetic, Metal Blade, and the like now have to fight for their place, pulling out all the stops to do so. This has resulted in surprisingly effective and revelatory shifts in approach (Poison the Well, to a much lesser extent As I Lay Dying), somewhat endearing adherences to a tried-and-true formula (Killswitch Engage), and the kind of crap that reminds you as to why metalcore stopped being interesting to begin with (almost literally every other metalcore band I didn’t mention). Evergreen Terrace, in terms of that scale, fall a little into all three categories, releasing a craptastic new album full of familiar-but-fun breakdowns and the occasional flourish of melody or jangling post-hardcore guitar to keep things from tasting stale and same-y. But the craptastic element casts a long shadow over the good parts, and leaves one wondering whether a band like Evergreen Terrace can ever truly make it out of the mall and into maturity. Almost Home, their new album, tries to reach the latter, but just winds up next to Banana Republic in the former.
Say what you will about Evergreen Terrace: that their brand of stadium metalcore with big vocals is PASSE in all caps, that their choruses are tuneless and annoying, that while they’re not the worst band with a Simpsons reference for a name (Fall Out Boy, I’m looking in your direction), they’re certainly not good enough to, you know, convince you that sitting down and watching The Simpsons wouldn’t be preferable. But they’re certainly alright at what they do, relying a little more on hardcore than metal than most bands of their ilk do, with quite a few big, dumb breakdowns in between. From the slash-and-burn opener “Enemy Sex” to the tough guy hardcore breakdown that’s half the backbone of quickie “The Letdown” to the well fleshed out “Hopelessly Hopeless” to the surprisingly meaty and heavy (and horribly titled) “God Rocky, Is This Your Face?”, the album is not completely without noteworthy moments. At its best, Almost Home is a primo slab of metalcore, a guilty pleasure if not an actual one.
Of course, nearly all of those best moments are overshadowed by the band’s almost constant attempt to gloss everything the fuck up with mall emo and pop punk choruses, highlighting the band’s lack of clever (or any sensical) wordplay and void of vocal prowess. For a good metalcore band (or at least since metalcore became more about Swedish death metal riffs and Meshuggah-lite breakdowns), the clean singing is the part your grin and bear, waiting for the band to swing back in and decimate you (of course, a great metalcore band makes clean singing a valuable part of the package). With Evergreen Terrace, very little of what they do offsets the saccharine-bloated choruses that plague almost every one of their songs. Which is sort of a shame, considering the bits in between that are somewhat worthwhile. But at this point in metalcore’s evolution – I presume the part where the last few neanderthals stubbornly stick to rubbing pieces of flint together while everybody else goes off to Mesopotamia this is to be expected. I suppose you have to give the guys credit, in that they’re still at this, and do parts of it well. But they’re ultimately more part disease than part cure, and in a world with Atreyu and Attack Attack!, we need as little of this crap as possible.
(2 1/2 out of 5 horns)