It appears that everything nowadays is slowly making the move to become digital. One can shop, read the newspaper and even pay bills through digital methods.
Is it possible that even rock and metalcore are moving in a digital direction as well? With the release of I See Stars’ new album Digital Renegade, it certainly appears to be possible.
I See Stars is composed of lead singer Devin Oliver, unclean vocalist Zach Johnson, Jeff Valentine on bass guitar, Brent Allen on lead guitar, Jimmy Gregerson on rhythm guitar, and Andrew Oliver on drums.
Digital Renegadeis the band’s third full-length album and their strongest effort to date.
Many fans of the band were disappointed with their last release The End of the World Party which was released a little over a year ago. The band took a pop punk approach to the album that was considerably lighter than their first album, 3-D. Many fans were unhappy with this approach and wanted I See Stars to return to their heavier roots. I See Stars seemed to get that memo and Digital Renegade was exactly what the fans ordered.
The album kicks off with a song called “Gnars Attacks,” and it immediately hits you like a punch in the face. The speakers are invaded with the chanting of “Burn every bridge you ever built, how do you live with yourself,” accompanied with electronic beats and of course the usual metalcore/ punk sounds of I See Stars. The song focuses on the idea of keeping your friends close but your enemies closer and is a great way to start things off. Right away you pick up on how impressive Oliver’s vocals have become since the last album, not to mention the powerful screams of Johnson.
The tempo stays up on the second track on the album, called “NZT48,” which is the name of the drug in the movie Limitless. The song begins with Oliver’s voice auto tuned, until Johnson jumps in with the rest of the band, in one of the heaviest songs on the album.
The uniqueness of I See Stars is evident in the third song on the album, “Digital Renegade.” The song starts off like a techno song until it goes right into a brutal breakdown. The song has a balance of clean and unclean vocals that mesh really well with the digital sounds and the drum and guitar parts as well.
“Underneath Every Smile” is a song that tricks the listener into thinking I See Stars is going to slow things down like they did several times on The End of the World Party, only to be thrown right into the newer, heavier I See Stars.
This heaviness also shines through on other tracks like “Mystery Wall” and “Summers in Connorsville” which is a town in Indiana where the band recorded the album.
Now there is one slower song on the album titled “IBelieve,” which sort of lets the listener catch their breath before the album’s tempo jumps right back up to fever pitch.
The first song anyone heard off the album was the official single “Filth Friends Unite,” which rips the modern technological world.
Ironically, the song features a very catchy techno beat that is sure to get stuck in your head, with the rest of the band playing heavy riffs along with it and Johnson screaming his lungs out. The song is also the last track on the album and allows the band to go out with a bang.
I See Stars also reached out to other artists to lay down guest vocals on the album. The result was two of the best songs on the album.
First up for the guest vocalists was Danny Worsnop of Asking Alexandria on the song “Endless Sky.” For those who know Asking Alexandria, they are one of the heaviest bands around today. The song was hands down the heaviest song on the album and contained the most screamed vocals , with Oliver giving the listener a breath of fresh air with each clean vocal. There is also a part towards the end of the song where Worsnop sounds like Marilyn Manson before the song goes into the final break down . Overall a great song, it made for one of the most memorable pieces on the album.
The second guest vocalist was responsible for the most memorable song on the album and here’s why. The entire album is filled with heavy guitar riffs, powerful drums and screamed vocals that are balanced out with electronic sounds and Oliver’s great singing voice.
However, I See Stars added something on this track they’ve never done before…a female vocalist. The result was something pretty amazing.
That female singer was Cassadee Pope of Hey Monday and the song was called “Electric Forest.” The song is on the lighter side yet at the same time it still remains heavy. The blending of her voice with Oliver’s is very easy on the ear and by throwing in the occasional screamed vocal you’ve got yourself quite an interesting song. I had never heard anything like this before and I’m sure there are many people out there who haven’t either. The song is great through and through right up to when it fades out and it’s definitely my must-listen-to song on the album.
Overall, I was very satisfied with the band’s latest effort and in my opinion it is their best album to date. I See Stars fans everywhere will be starry eyed and have open ears with Digital Renegade.
IMAGE TAKEN from altrocklive.com