Best of 2016 Playlist

October 31, 2015

A Skylit Drive - "ASD" Review

The often overlooked group from Lodi, California, A Skylit Drive, have released their 5th album. Touring stints with bands like Sleeping with Sirens, Memphis May Fire, and multiple trips on Warped Tour have given them a respectable fanbase. But they've never been able to achieve the success of their peers. Their latest album, "ASD" (a self titled album), comes after yet another lineup change. So how does the album shape up? Click this (link) to buy the album on iTunes. 

The band has been steadily riding the mid decade post hardcore boom, but have never distinguished themselves from the mass. This album doesn't do much in the way of making he band stand out. It's the same stuff we've heard before, and at this point we were hoping for something different. 

"Within the Walls" was released as a stand-alone single prior to the album. It's a pop punk meets post hardcore song, going especially pop for the chorus. This is duplicated in many songs in ASD's new album. Not to mention every other post hardcore band in the business. The band have always been sticklers to the blueprints laid before them, but this is taking that to a new level. 

Lead single and album opener "Bring Me A War" is a fast, energy packed hardcore number. It starts with a guitar solo and rages into the first verse with double bass kicks. It's one of the heaviest songs we've heard from the band in a long time. Michael Jagmin takes a backseat in this song to the lead guitar. Aside from the chorus and his cries of "bring me a war!" he doesn't do a lot of singing. Unclean vocalist On the other hand, new rhythm guitarist and unclean vocalist Michael Labella is given plenty to do with his screams and gnarled voice. It's a great introduction to the album, but it's not indicative of the rest of the album's sound. 

The 2nd track, "Self/Less" is like a shorter version of "Within the Walls" with plenty of energy, and a mainstream chorus. And while this should be a recipe for success, and it is on some levels, it's just so repetitive of previous albums. Aside from "Self/Less", which is one of the stronger moments of the album, the band stick to the same material they've been doing for almost 10 years. "Falling Apart in a (Crow)ded Room" is even more of a repeat song. It's so generic it's almost criminal. 

Where most bands are losing fans to experimenting sounds and styles, ASD have lost us due to sticking to the source material. Yet they also keep fans because they stick relatively close to their roots.  Former Motionless In White drummer Brandon Richter doesn't help the band break free of their cookie-cutter style. He brings nothing new to the table, sticking to generic drum beats and fills. We understand this is his first album with the band, and he's probably playing it safe. But he's got enough experience to know not to make some of the mistakes he made in the album. The standard bass kicks and China cymbal smashes are so overused in the genre, and Richter should know that you can't use them as much as he did without getting some bashing for it.  Everyone needs a comfort zone, and ASD are many people's comfort zone.

Since the band's beginnings, we've seen them slowly but surely alter and improve their sound. Their previous album being an amalgamation of various metal genres with pop-like choruses. But their latest album fails to provide anything new. Familiar and safe, but at this point in the band's career, they shouldn't be playing it safe. We expect more out of them, having had almost 10 years experience under their belts. 

This is a fan pleaser, and an overall good listen, but it's also a bit of a let down. It's a step down from their 2014 acoustic EP, "Rise:Ascension", which gave the band depth and added a new dimension to their sound. Recommended for fans of Of Mice and Men, The Word Alive, and We Came as Romans. But at the end of the day, we would recommend you get "Rise" over this album. Or choose something a bit more interesting like "Fragile Figures" by SECRETS or maybe even Issues self-titled debut. 

Favorite Tracks - Tracks mentioned above, "Self/Less" and "Within the Walls"

Rating - 6.5/10