Photo Credit: Lindsey Byrnes
It’s taken a while, but it feels like Issues have finally, fully, arrived.
The band’s evolution has taken a while. Their early work was part unimaginative modern metalcore, part nostalgic nu-metal stomp and part soaring R&B hooks. It was an odd mix, sometimes potent and invigorating and other times…not so much.
The biggest issue (pun intended)? One of the band’s biggest assets was hamstrung. Tyler Carter’s smooth, 90s R&B inspired vocals are bursting with character and his talent is clear and totally undeniable. It’s the kind of voice that you don’t often find on heavy music, immediately setting the band apart in the best possible way.
But, his vocals were one part of the equation. The other half was competent, if completely unremarkable, screamed vocals from another dedicated vocalist. And although he admirably expanded his range for the band’s second full-length, the problem with two dedicated singers is…you need to find space for them.
And this where Issues are now thriving. As a single vocal band, there’s much more space. Instrumentally, the band are free to explore a larger range of sounds, because they don’t have to accommodate the sort of soundscapes that only suit an aggressive vocal. The other side of that coin is that Carter now has had more room to explore the full breadth of his melodic range.
The old Issues couldn’t have blended gospel and funk with a tech-metal twist like they do on Find Forever. The reality is, ripping saxophone parts and gospel choirs don’t compliment bolted on breakdowns just so there’s something for someone to do.
The old Issues couldn’t bring a song as unapologetically pop as Rain, there would have had to have been some sort of screaming or a second, much less compelling vocal, which would rob this track of its joyous breakneck, feel-good momentum. It just goes to show what your rhythm section can do once you unchain it from the limiting expectations of breakdowns…
And also, how would you fit a second voice into tracks as delicate as Your Sake, an excellent piano and vocal focused ballad, or as zeitgeisty and tongue-in-cheek as Flexin? It’s obviously not impossible, but the idea it would be more effective…less than convincing.
If you think that all sounds a bit harsh, then this is where you’ll be really upset. The band do have some screaming on this record, peppered about here and there. This time guitarist AJ RoBello handles it, and he’s much, much better than the band’s old vocalist this. His voice sounding more akin to an early 00’s Cave In style roar (see Tapping Out’s tremendous breakdown), distinct and powerful, versus the identikit and indistinguishable rasp that marked the band’s tracks before.
Beautiful Oblivion is an excellent record, bursting with creativity and first-class instrumental performances. Each track free to run wild with the characteristics that best serve it. It’s a breath of fresh air among their contemporaries because of that, and in large part, because the band have now totally abandoned everything that held them captive to limitation and a past its sell-by date style. This is a new start for Issues, and the future couldn’t look brighter.
See Issues live with support from Lotus Eater at one of the following dates:
Mon 7th – BERLIN, DE – Musik & Frieden
Tue 8th – ROTTERDAM, NL – Baroeg
Wed 9th – COLOGNE, DE – Club Volta
Thu 10th – PARIS, FR – Gibus
Sat 12th – CARDIFF, UK – Clwb Ifor Bach
Sun 13th – GLASGOW, UK – The Cathouse
Mon 14th – BIRMINGHAM, UK – O2 Academy
Tue 15th – MANCHESTER, UK – Academy
Wed 16th – KINGSTON, UK – Banquet Records (instore)
Thu 17th – LONDON, UK – The Underworld
Tickets are on sale HERE.
Written by: Calum McMillan