(DemiGodRaven weighs in with a review of Changes, the new album from Denmark’s Invisius.)
I think I may be writing this review out of a subconscious desire to put a picture of a dude’s ass on the front page.
Invisius and I have history. They were one of the first bands whose music I ever reviewed when I started writing, and my review of their album The Spawn Of Condemnation was, for all intents and purposes, a way for me to practice writing an ‘okay’ album review. Anyone who has been writing reviews for a while will tell you that the two easiest things in the world to do are to (a) say an album sucks, and (b) say an album is awesome. It is more difficult to cover that in-between area without sounding too overtly negative or too positive, giving no real reason why you are still giving the disc a 3/5.
The band themselves are a couple of young Danish upstarts whose previous release I thought held potential for something greater, so long as they took the time to really hammer out their sound. The Spawn Of Condemnation sounded like a hybrid of modern day melo-death worship by way of Unearth’s lead vocalist, and at times the band gave in to the occasional metalcore trope. This had the effect of making the album fairly heavy and interesting and at other times overtly bland. It was those heavy parts that led me to adopt an encouraging sort of tone when I wrote my review of Spawn.
However, just because I could encourage them to continue did not mean I could steer them in the direction I wanted them to follow. Among other reasons, I can’t write out a plan for the band to improve, by my lights, because my opinion may not be shared by their more supportive fans. And so, seeing potential in something and attempting to say that I liked the melo-death worship segments better than the metalcore segments didn’t quite work out.
And so we wound up with their new album, Changes.
Have you ever been sitting around in silence one afternoon and thought to yourself, “Holy shit, I really miss Atreyu and Atreyu-like formatting of music with clean-sung pop-song choruses and heavy verses . . .”? If you have, then have I got the album for you.
Something must have happened in the two years between Invisius’ previous release and this one because it seems like the group that put forth Changes is an entirely different band than the one that was present on Spawn. Almost anything resembling the band’s old sound has been jettisoned out the airlock, leaving behind music that resembles metalcore circa 2004. In my grand naivety, I once predicted that the mass of bands who were piling on to this verse/clean/verse/clean format were going to become one homogenous sounding hive-mind of sound, rendering it almost impossible to distinguish one band from another. With Changes, it appears Invisius are showing the first signs of joining that movement.
Instead of producing an album that at times sounds generic but also has potential, Invisius have now delivered a disc that sounds wholly generic, though for entirely different reasons. While the stuff on the previous release may have shown signs of drift toward a single genre, with the music just being poorly written and constructed, we now have songs that are capably written and for all intents and purposes perfectly sound . . . but now, it is just too comfortably familiar and has the effect of producing boredom.
Case in point: the song ‘Til The Break of Day’ is frighteningly similar in message and chorus to the song ‘Dancing With The Enemy’ by Still Remains. Allow me to completely honest: that is an issue that you never want to have. Of course, one shitty song does not a meh album make . . . it’s just the grandest example how much this band’s sound has shifted from what they used to sound like. If you are familiar with the band and are seeking some music that sounds like their earlier stuff, it is present here but not in the form of full songs. Instead, it comes in fleeting moments, interspersed between bland two-step riffs and the occasional breakdown . . . or four.
Often, I like to dedicate specific paragraphs in a review to how well each band member performs his or her specific part, but the frustrating thing about an album like Changes is that nothing really stands out. It isn’t like I can specifically highlight something and go, “Yeah! Their guitarist does the best job playing stuff that sounds just like something As I Lay Dying wrote that I’ve heard so far this year!”, as if that were some sort of accomplishment.
I’ve always put forth the notion that metalcore is metal’s pop music, and nowhere is that theory proven better than on this disc. You could pop this album in and find something enjoyable, but it is also very likely that about a day later, you’ll also forget almost everything you enjoyed.
That said, special mention does need to be given to the guy they hired to play the bass-blast samples, because that fucker is on cue every time. He has taken the flag of “headbang now you fuckers!” and hoisted it to the best of his ability. It seems like every four measures you hear that familiar FWOOOM sound, and if not there, then right before the band starts the “Holy shit, this is really heavy!” breakdown-esque section of a particular song. He gets a lot of mileage out of this album, putting him in pretty clear contention for most bass-blasts ever used, alongside The Browning’s Burn This World and Job For A Cowboy’s Doom EP. Good on him though, because at least somebody in Invisius decided that this would be the album where they were going to stand out like a newborn blue star . . . it seems that nobody else in this band felt that he should.
In short, Invisius are an example of wasted potential. Maybe the promising stuff that I found on their previous release was just a fluke, and what they always wanted to be was part of a mass movement in which they really don’t stand out. Even the album art that you see above is stunningly generic when stacked alongside other recent metalcore releases.
It is clear that the guys have found their sound, it just isn’t one that really shows off anything dynamic this time. They will surely find success with the crowd of people who devour every release, only to move on to something else within two weeks. Changes is almost a perfect flavor-of-the-week album, with everything sounding as if it was focus-tested amongst a variety of listeners, that will only find itself becoming something similar to the bland gruel eaten by the people in The Matrix on a daily basis. They’ve made the perfect short-term listening album, but its lack of staying power shows itself fast. To a critical ear, the whole experience is a little boring and more than a little disappointing.
I had hoped for something more from the band of upstarts who I found myself somewhat enjoying previously, but it is now clear that they have taken a divergent path. Maybe they will find success there, and good luck to them. I just won’t be paying attention anymore.