Screamo metalcore bands generally have a lack of middle ground. Either you like the genre and you’re into it, or you want to drag the singer out back and shoot him in the head. Oddly enough, Through Solace have managed to fall somewhat dead-center in my mental rating scale, making them somewhat of a trouble to critique. At first listen, I wanted to write these guys off as being way too late to the party, but the more I’ve listened, the more I’ve had to rethink my perceived polarity of opinions on the emo whine.
Now, I don’t mean to mislead you. This album isn’t rife with the “she broke my heart” childish wailing. The typical metalcore throaty, mid-range scream is actually much more prevalent in The World On Standby, the newest release from this Christian Welsh five-piece. I’ve come to realize that Through Solace are not the worst of the worst by any means. They have the semi-technical yet super-melodic feel of older Shai Hallud, which as I’ve said before, is never a bad thing. The problem with the band is that there’s not a lot of meat on this record. They’ve pretty much redefined the phrase “few and far between” in regards to good guitar riffs. Every now and again, there’s a moment of noodley melodies or rocking rides where I got pulled in and started to bob my head, but overall, I found the riff-age to be quite forgettable.
The drums seem right at home, but never stand out as truly amazing. Not once did I have to shake my head at the drumming, but on the flip side, I never fell in love with it either. Sean Fletcher manages to keep the beats varied and solid enough to make the album entirely listen-able, so he’s widely avoided any vitriol I had originally hoped to direct towards him. However, a more impressive breed of venom dodger lives in Luke Nicholas, the vocalist. His singing is very akin to the emo whine, fortifying this as a full-fledged screamo record. Dare I say it’s not that bad? Well, most of it’s not, anyways. Some of it kind of reminds me of earlier Poison The Well, especially in the fact that the clean singing is not over-used. I have to take it one step further and admit that I truly liked the sing-along ending to “Seth Loomis”.
What really dragged The World On Standby under was the songwriting. Albeit not horrible, it failed to make me fall in love with the old-school screamo sound that Through Solace is selling. They definitely have not written the next The Opposite Of December or Hearts Once Nourished With Hope And Compassion. They play the part very well, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that both of those albums, I don’t know… kind of ruled in their entirety. The best way I can think to describe it is where this album lacks memorable musical arrangements, those albums played directly to my soul and imprinted their sound into me forever. That is what screamo metalcore is about, and these guys just don’t exhibit it on this release. Songs like “You Were My World” and “Aspects Of Dreams” have moderate appeal, especially the ending of the latter. My favorite part on the record by far was the instrumental ending to “Tides II”, with the acoustic guitar and the piano, and that’s not even representative of the rest of the release. In the end, the appealing parts are rare enough that I have to admit, with some honest sadness, that I will probably never have the urge to listen to this record again.
I feel that somewhere down the line, Through Solace may put out a truly mind-blowing release. They have the talent to do it, but they just haven’t achieved that level of awesomeness on The World On Standby. Now, that’s not to say this record’s a total bust. If you live for screamo metalcore, you may very well eat this record up with a smile on your face. Just make sure you’ve checked out bands like Hope Lane Is A Dead End and Dance Gavin Dance first. The rest of us will probably admire what the band has going for them, and continue on with our lives, never looking back.
01. We Were So Sincere
02. Aspects Of Dreams
03. Through These Years
06. Change Of Heart
08. An Opening
09. Seth Loomis
10. You Were My World
11. Lead By Example
12. Tides II