Best of 2016 Playlist

August 29, 2016

The Color Morale - "Desolate Divine" Review

The Color Morale's newest album is here! After a slew of singles, the complete album was released August 19th. After another successful stint on Warped Tour this summer, things couldn't look better for the band. The question remains: have the band grown in the two years since their last album? Or was "Know Hope" their peak point?

Click this (link) to buy the album on iTunes. And don't forget to catch the band this fall with Our Last Night, Hands Like Houses and Out Came the Wolves on the "Face to Face Tour". Click this (link) to see the tour dates and buy tickets. 

The Color Morale continue to move away from their original sound, melodic hardcore with strong influences from alt. rock and grunge. Their sound on album 5 dips more into those genres than metal of any kind. Don't let that mislead you, the band are still very much a "core" outfit. 

TCM brought in legendary producer Dan Korneff (whose production credits include Pierce the Veil, The Devil Wears Prada and Dayshell) for their 5th full length effort. Which signaled an increase in level and quality. Production on this album is tighter and cleaner than ever before. 
"Desolate Divine" takes everything to a new level. The production echoes music from arena rock champions Thirty Seconds to Mars. That's how epic the record sounds. 

One of the strongest aspects of the album are the vocals. Frontmand Garret 
Rapp steps back to let Saunders have a more prominent role in the unclean vocals. A decision that works for the band. Saunders' deeper unclean vocals remind listeners of earlier music from "We All Have Demons" and "My Devil in Your Eyes". Saunders shines in his new role, though we don't many chances to revel in his voice. Anyone else want more of his vocals? Saunders voice brings back the metalcore flair the band seemingly abandoned after "My Devil..." And seeing as TCM have moved closer to the alt. rock side of the post hardcore spectrum, we could use some more metal. 

Track by Track Review -
1. Lonesome Soul - 8 to 8.5/10
"Lonesome Soul" starts the album off on a high note. The heavily distorted and chugged intro gives into a deep bassline from Mike Honson and Rapp's vocals. Who mixes his unclean vocals with his clean to give the listener a new experience. It's not quite half screams, but it's a lot grittier than Rapp's typical clean vocals. The second verse mixes his and Aaron Saunder's vocals. The metalcore growls compliment Rapp's voice, and vice versa. But the real gem is the breakdown, which has to be one of the best the band have given. The only thing that would have really sent this song over the edge would be more unclean vocals from Rapp. 

2. Clip Paper Wings 7.5/10
The song is fairly weak, due in part to the fact that it follows a lot of the same patterns the band followed on "Hold on Pain Ends". It tries to be everything; metal, alt. rock, hardcore, and every genre in-between. The clean guitar intro is great, as is the backing orchestration. But the song as a whole doesn't feel like one piece. It's like a jigsaw of parts. Gritty guitar lines, and heavy bass then a bright and powerful chorus. Maybe it's just us, but we're not completely sold on this one. It's just a little too much "hopecore", especially considering the band's last album was 24/7 "hope". The best part about the song is the lead guitar line during the breakdown/bridge. 

3. "Walls" click link to read full review - 8.5 to 9/10

4. Trail of Blood - 8.5/10
The real standout for the album is "Trail of Blood". The song mixes the melodic chugs found on "Know Hope" with the electronic and alt. rock touches from "Hold on Pain Ends". Honson comes into his own on this track, shining strong in the verses. His bass fuels most of the song's rhythm, while Steve Carrey provides another steady drum beat. Then the breakdown comes around, and Carrey shies away from most metalcore drum cliches. 

5. Version of Me - 8.5/10
"Version of Me" dips back into the alt. rock side of the band. Focusing their efforts on melody, while also mixing in some light piano, the unclean vocals from Saunders slay all other unclean vocals on the album. The chorus is about as infectious and anthemic as they come. Icing on the cake, the production on this song is first class. Devin King goes to town on his lead guitar parts, shining during the bridge and chorus. Glad to see he's also come into his own on this album. 

6. Home Bittersweet Home - 8/10
The fans wanted heavy, and the band delivered. More so on "Home Bittersweet Home" than any other track. Aside from the choruses and the bridge, the song is as heavy as it gets. The bridge adds in some "Whoas" just as a bonus. Again, the only thing that would have made this track that much stronger would be more of Saunders' unclean vocals.

7. Misery Hates Company - 8.5/10
The song is pure alt. rock goodness until the breakdown. The band seem to take a page from Bring Me The Horizon in that they keep the instrumentals heavy, but the vocals lighter and geared to radio airwaves. The groove of the guitar riff is about as metalcore as you can get.  

8. Perfect Strangers - 7.5 to 8/10
A definite anthem for the books. Everything about this song screams arena. Unfortunately the production on this song is much more unbalanced. The distortion on the guitars during the verses obscures Rapp's vocals so bad, it's hard to discern anything. The bridge comes around, and the song gets a little muddled. Thankfully as soon as the chorus kicks in the song comes back to life. Add some unclean vocals and you've got a real hit. 

9. Broken Vessel - 7.5 to 8/10
Another complete 180 for the band, they drift into Emarosa and Dance Gavin Dance territory. Drifting from hardcore to modern rock to R&B and back to alt. rock. The song is a perfect example of how the band have grown and are willing to experiment. It's not perfect by any standard, but it still has all the hallmarks of a classic TCM song. Sadly there aren't any unclean vocals. The outro, however, proves why the band don't need the unclean vocals to craft a hit. Rapp's soothing voice is more than enough. 

10. Fauxtographic Memory - 7.5/10
Carrey gets a little experimental with his drums on this track. Utilizing more hi-hat than in previous tracks, it suits the vibe of this song. The band don't slow down for a second, bursting out of the gate from the start. The verse has a great beat to it, one you can bounce your head to all day. Honson's bass breaks through during the bridge before the second chorus, giving us another glimpse at his skill. Strong use of orchestration is something we haven't seen from the band until this track. It's a great addition to the song, closing things on yet another high note. 

11. Keep Me in My Body - 7.5 to 8/10
A mix of the band's sound from "Hold on Pain Ends" and the band's sporadic metal from their first two albums. It's another anthem for the album's closing track. Rapp croons about having regrets and living life. Nothing new on that front, but the delivery is so powerful you can't help but be a little moved. Even just a little. He belts out lyrics that tell the listener that it's okay to not be okay. "Hopecore" rears its head again. But this time it isn't like having a ball of dirty socks shoved down your throat. 

Summary - 

The band have perfected the art of writing catchy songs. Now if they can branch out and into heavier territory. Because while we are in love with these tracks, we can't help but feel the band are still holding something back. They played it safe, and showed everyone they more than have what it takes to be a headlining act. Perhaps on album 6 The Color Morale will use this record as the building blocks for something out of this world. Right now they're stuck in the stratosphere. Thankfully they eased back on the "hopecore" a bit for this record. Because the act was getting pretty stale (it's still stale). 
Recommended for fans of Our Last Night, Dance Gavin Dance, and The Word Alive

Favorite Tracks - 
"Walls", "Trail of Blood" and "Version of Me" are our top picks for this album. Other noteworthy tracks include: "Lonesome Soul" and "Misery Hates Company

Average Rating - 8/10

      Rating Breakdown -