Best of 2016 Playlist

May 24, 2016

Issues - "Headspace" Review

A "new" take on "nu metal" (pardon the pun), Issues have fine tuned their sound, and are on their way to a mainstream crossover (at least we're guessing that's what they're aiming to do). This album isn't for metalheads, nor is it for rap-aficionados. It's for anyone willing to look past genre boundaries and try something new. 

Fair warning, this review is pretty long. The album is 13 tracks long, so there's a lot of ground to cover. 

Click this (link) to buy "Headspace" on iTunes. And don't forget to catch the band on Warped Tour this summer. 

On their debut, the band were weighed down by the "Risecore" tendencies. Their blend of R&B, pop punk and metal was lost amidst all the electronics, autotune, random effects, and the needless chugs. On this new record, the band still leans towards those tendencies, but they aren't as dependent on them. 

Michael Bohn's clean vocals are particular standout for the record. Like Dave Stephens of We Came as Romans, Bohn has taken some time to perfect his singing voice. But of course he can't hold a candle to Tyler Carter's soulful voice. The thing about Carter is, it's easier to listen to him sing than it is to watch him. Similar to Jonny Craig, the guy's overconfidence is off putting, but his voice is pure gold. 

The album's weak points come in the lyrics and the mixing. Songs are written with the standard "break-up, make-up" and "I'm a fucking mess" lyrics. And that's not such a problem, in the grand scheme of things. Issues target audience is made up of fangirls who are looking for something a bit more edgy than One Direction, Shawn Mendes, or Zayn. 

The production has all the problems we'd expect an album like this to have. In a band where the frontman (or frontmen) are billed as the main attraction, of course the record is going to shove the instrumentals to the background. And that's a real shame, since the instrumentals are very well done. But you'd never know because, due to the mixing, everything gets muddled together. And this is also in part due to the fact the instrumentals are heavily rooted in djent. 

The record's standout tracks come in the form of "Home Soon", "Lost-N-Found (On A Roll)", "Yung & Dum", and "COMA". "Home Soon" and "Lost-N-Found" both find themselves perfectly balancing the band's metal with Tyler Carter's uplifting pop vocals. Bohn's unclean "half rap" vocals aren't half bad either. The gang vocals to the song's chorus are stellar. This exemplifies everything that's right about Issues. The vocals, the catchy chorus, and the underlying, hardcore attributes. Both are very reminiscent of Bring Me the Horizon's "Oh No". Though of the two songs, "Home Soon" is a tad more accessible. 

"Yung & Dum" doesn't put as much emphasis on country as some might have lead you to believe. There are moments in the song that draw from country, but the majority of the song is post hardcore with R&B and pop mixes. The song starts off with a clean guitar and Carter's woeful voice. And then as you move into the song's "intro" Issues starts playing around with the genres. There's a sweet lead guitar line that echoes classic rock and country. A brief dip into metal for the verse before returning to a light chorus. 

If you're looking for heavier songs, go to "Rank Rider" and "Blue Wall". The latter of the two is only 2:40 long, but it's one of the best tracks on the album. With the police siren effects in the background, and Bohn's deep growls, this is a mosh pit song. And reminds fans that the band are more than capable of going heavy once in a while. 

Summary -
A huge step in the right direction, the band have worked out the kinks and crafted a solid 2nd album. Far better than their first, Issues still have a few bugs to work out. But they're on their way. We can't wait because in a few years there will be dozens of bands coming out and trying to duplicate this "metal-pop". And like they say, you can't beat the original. 
Recommended for fans of Of Mice and Men, I See Stars, and newer We Came as Romans. 

Favorite Tracks
"Lost-n-Found", "COMA", "Blue Wall" and "Someone Who Does" (Carter should rap on more tracks) 
Rating - A solid 8/10