Scream a bit, sing a bit, scream a bit, breakdown, end. A classic formula that metal fans have become acquainted with in recent years, when metalcore eventually stopped being edgy and was replaced with a tame, inoffensive version of rent-a-scream riffage. It’s in dire need of shaking up and there are a number of UK acts looking to capture the flag and reclaim metalcore for the masses. But who will lead the way?
London lads Shadows Chasing Ghosts have just released their second LP Lessons to try and teach the rest of us a thing or two about merging passive with aggressive. Opener ‘Splinter’ is a fast and furious rager in the vein of Bury Tomorrow with a hard-hitting groove – at least until the clean vocals are added into the mix. Unlike their peers, the actual ‘singing’ is far too sparkly polished, which removes any sense of ballsiness the music previously possessed.
As the album continues the clean vocals gradually remove the album from the metal spectrum altogether – at times it sounds more at home in the realm of You Me At Six and Fall Out Boy. The harder sections strive to claw back the foot-stomping heaviness we crave, but it falls flat on the flimsy, gutless singing.
‘Again and Again’ is the catchiest, most anthemic song SCG have on offer, and is one that will no doubt soon be accompanied by a slow-mo promo video. Taken by itself, it’s a passable, modern pop-rock tune – but for an offering on a band’s second album it’s a musical regression, not evolution. At times Lessons is bouncy and reminiscent of early Aiden, but the ‘rock’ world doesn’t need yet more songs about girls, despite the target audience obviously being younger. Such is the nature of this music; it’s unlikely to attract anyone above their mid-twenties.
There are some positives, though. The Rise To Remain-esque heaviness of ‘Deadly Weapon’ pulls the album back toward the metal world and there are sublimely guttural and brash vocals to rattle your ear drums. But it can’t be saved from the faux emotion, sub-par lyrics and the inherent cleanliness. It’s all too light and fluffy, without a single jagged edge in sight. The metal is quickly swept under the carpet to make room for teenie-bopper-friendly angst. We’ll have to keep searching for our saviours of metalcore…