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Album Review: Nonpoint’s Latest Should Return to Whence it Came

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I am not familiar with Nonpoint’s previous canon of what I can only assume is more middle-of-the-road heavy-ish-riffs-with-super-cheesy-clean-sung vocals, but if new album The Return is any indication of the band’s style and approach, I will be staying far, far away from here on out. I have been asked to review many different subgenres of metal on our esteemed website, but this is honestly the first time I feel like I’ve been given an album that could only really be called “butt-rock” — a subgenre I’m admittedly/thankfully/intentionally a total outsider to and will do everything in my power to stay that way.

We’re talking about a band that probably has a fine career going, but my guess is that the majority of our readers will have little interest in this shlock.  Sure, there are moments that might make you say, “hmm, that solo/riff/vocal line/drum fill wasn’t awful” — and some of the “catchy” sections may get stuck in your head in a nightmare-ish cycle of brain torture — but this should hardly be the bar we set for our heavy music.  I’m sure there are plenty of lovers of tepid mainstream music out there that will rock out to this stuff and plot their next gas station robbery while jacked up on meth, but I just can’t get behind this nonsense.

Everything about The Return is pure, unadulterated cheese — from the guitar tones to the drum sounds to the vocal delivery and so on — is there even a bass player here or are those low notes being created on synthesizers??  Oh wait, there’s that terribly affected bass tone on man-wearing-spandex-and-a-leather-jacket ballad “Goodbye Letters” — blech.

The nice guy in me wants to look for the positives, but let’s be honest — this is butt rock meets radio metal, and the message is anything but eloquent. The worst of it all is definitely the vocal delivery and lyrics.  Please consider the “profound” nature of the main lyric of the chorus of “Misery” (sandwiched in with that nu-metal cadence we all thought we’d escaped):

“You made an addict out of me without even knowing I was a sucker for another dose of your misery and your company…”

Is the druggy undertone supposed to make it cool?  This is just the tip of the iceberg; nonstop maudlin, crying-for-attention, pessimistic, misdirected entitlement pervades the entire album.  From “Never Ending Hole”:

“Feels like I’m never gonna get out of this never-ending hole…I shouldn’t have to work this hard to save my soul… but it’s the people like you I keep around me that’s got me so in deep… feels like I’m never gonna get out of this never-ending hole that you dig for me…”

Oh man, life sounds tough for this guy.  I don’t wanna work to save my soul either but what else can you do, sad guy?  I wanna get sad guy on the couch and ask him why, if he’s so aware that the people around him are such negative forces on his life, does he “keep” them around him?

But this sad guy’s problems run far deeper than simple therapy could possibly help — when he asks “What‘s the point of fighting for any of this?” and subsequently elaborates “You never cared before…” (from “Never Cared Before”) an image of a neglected, abused child who wasn’t given an iota of love or support comes to mind, and it becomes difficult not to pity the poor fellow, now all grown up, angry and bitter, with a misguided, depressing message to communicate to the masses.

Frankly, the lyrical content of The Return is decidedly negative and self-hating, but furthermore in a superficially ostentatious way throughout — if only the message were to offer anything remotely introspective or insightful on a real level it could perhaps transcend its butt-rock-ness.  But don’t hold your breath on that.  Take, for example, the subtle wisdom of the chorus of second-to-last track “F_K’D”:

“And we’re living in a fucked-up world…

This is such a fucking fucked-up world…

He’s fucked, she’s fucked, everybody’s fucked up…

Now we’re living in a fucked-up world…”

I’m not sure there could a greater example of just how terrible the lyrical content is on this album, so I will leave it there.

Actually I can’t help but agree with part of the aforementioned sentiment — this is truly “a fucking fucked-up world” — but for so many more reasons than I’d imagine you have the capability to fathom, sad guy.

And you’re one of them.

Nonpoint’s The Return comes out September 30 on Razor & Tie. You can stream the entire album via iTunes if you’re so inclined.

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