'90s worship & nostalgia without any real staying power.
On their third full-length effort, My Ticket Home almost completely shed the metalcore roots they were steeped in on their previous two releases, opting instead for a more nu-metal approach, something they took to labelling themselves as “puke rock”. This initially seemed to me to be a positive step for a band I only ever vaguely knew about but had trouble differentiating from the rest of the early 2010s metalcore bands, but unfortunately, for the most part, they play it too safe to be remotely interesting.
Another band this year has already shown that '90s nostalgia can be used in fresh and interesting ways was Ocean Grove, with 'The Rhapsody Tapes' being steeped in recognisable tropes of everyone from Korn to Limp Bizkit and even Gorillaz, but managing to do so in a way that highlighted their own unique artistic vision. This is where My Ticket Home don’t quite manage to stick the landing because as they jump from Deftones to Hybrid Theory-era Linkin Park to Avenged Sevenfold to Nickleback they largely forget to nail down their own sound amidst the references and homages flying out in all directions. 'UnReal' is certainly a bold step to take on a band's third record, and they certainly avoid the rinse and repeat slump of bands like In Hearts Wake and The Amity Affliction, and for tha, they should be commended. But it takes more than a love for other peoples’ music to write a compelling record, and for all the blatant influences there fails to be much of a uniquely My Ticket Home hook to grab hold of.
It’s not all a disappointment, though. For one thing, Nick Giumenti’s vocal performance is a competent if not masterful exploration of the space in between harsh screaming and clean vocals, sliding confidently from one to the other much like Chino Moreno or the late Chester Bennington. A bigger prominence of memorable choruses would have aided this side of the album in a huge way, and while he certainly can hold a tune with gusto and grit there isn’t a whole lot in the way of musical interest to carry that to anything worth talking about in years to come. The production is fine too, if a little flat. The guitars actually sound great, but the drums seem to be completely over compressed and the bass pokes its head out of the mix far too infrequently for my own liking.
All of this doesn’t amount to a necessarily bad album mind you, but rather an album that seems to slide by without making a clear statement or impression. Added with the fact that this is such a drastic turnaround from their previous work and it is hard to criticise My Ticket Home for lack of effort – they clearly have tried to make something different and exciting. The problem lies in the fact that there is nothing unique to the band's sound on album #3. Add to this that the album well and truly peaks before the halfway mark arrives and you have a tired plodder of a release with little staying power.
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'unReal' just goes to show that hero worship and nostalgia can only get you so far in life. Nothing about this album sticks out as being horrible, but converse, y there was nothing present to grab a hold of me that hasn’t already been done before by other, better records. I might be completely missing the point and hey, you might even love this album - I just don’t particularly care for it. There are more than plenty of other classic alternative metal albums you could put on instead and enjoy significantly more, and without the constant sense of déjà-vu.
Flee The Flesh
Time Kills Everything
We All Use
'UnReal' is out now. Get it here (or don't, if you the feel the same as me).