I love to start my Saturday mornings with some emotional metalcore, don’t you?
In all honesty as I sit in this Panera on a late Saturday morning, eating the remnants of my cinnamon roll, jamming The Act feels really out of place. And yet this was what I was in the mood for. *sips coffee*
Brains are weird, man.
The older I get, the more seldom heavy music enters into my listening rotation. Yet I have to tip my hat to the heavy hitters that have been consistent through adulthood so far. The Act seems to be cognizant of this evolution of their fans, with their own compositions reflecting this. The tones of the guitars and the cleans of Jeremy haven’t changed much since the days of “Hey John, What’s Your Name Again?” being on hourly rotation on RadioU.
Overall, this album feels much more deliberate than past releases. Every note, every programmed beat, every yelp from Mike Hranica—in place for pointed reasons. “Please Say No” makes adept use of this minimalistic approach. Even the stereotypical chug-chug-chug effects of metalcore are more sparingly used. “The Thread” has possibly the most prominent breakdown on the record. But it doesn’t have that adrenaline inducing effect that past Prada songs have given me. It’s seems to be there more for drama than live show “let’s open up this pit!” banter. But I have to admit my 30 year old self found the closing breakdown of this song to be pretty fun, even in my Panera Bread stupor.
“Isn’t it Strange?” is a song that seems to be entering new territory for the band. Nine Inch Nails comes to mind. The programming perpetuates an effect of impending doom, with heavy emphasis on the low end. This is a song I’d for sure like to experience live just to see how people react. This is the sort of amplified bass that would probably make people nauseated if exposed long enough in a live music environment. This song seems to be constructed to mirror the effects of a panic attack, which I can appreciate. While certain songs (“Chemicals,” for example) discuss the actions and thoughts that go with personal struggle, the songs toward the back end of the record seem to focus on the feeling.
Overall, I wouldn’t say this album is more accessible, but I would say that this feels like a natural evolution for the band. I maintain that it’s better to evolve into something new than it is to make a second rate version of what you’ve already released, to try to satiate the nostalgia of long-time fans. TDWP is navigating this dichotomy well, in my view.