Ayscobe: Beside Yourself

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Ayscobe: Beside Yourself
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Ayscobe: Beside Yourself
Hard Rock
Firefield Records
2010
Release length: 1:05:04
It’s actually very rare to happen on a CD that comes with a narrative description on the back regarding the content, but it’s something I greatly enjoy seeing, regardless of whether the album is conceptual or not. Beside Yourself, by the band Ayscobe, is described as a Rock opera, which becomes very clear right from the start, outlining the “resulting missunderstanding and verbal inacessability” about the “game” known as life, being composed around a character named Peter who “was born with an extroardinary fantasy and wandered back and forth between dreams and reality, until he could not the difference between them.” It does sound like an interesting concept, but, how does the band anage to express this theory through the power of music?

The answer is a rather resounding…no. Beside Yourself simply is not a good release. The overall tone of the album is clearly inspired by material put out by Rush, starting off with a sound extremely similar to that band on the track “How it Began” that there is simply no denying the impact they had on Ayscobe. However, the material doesn’t get any more interesting after the opening track. “How it Began” is a fun song that starts the opera off in a sense of self-realization, kicking things off nicely with upbeat music and a vocal approach similar to the aforementioned inspiration. Throughout the release, other vocalists come in, but the problem with Beside Yourself is that these other vocalists are basically tone deaf.

“How it Began” is also one of the very few uptempo songs. Many of the others leave the impression that the band is trying very hard to create certain moods and atmospheres to the album to reflect the lyrical content, but for the most part there is never any energy to the recordings, and the songs always seem to go at the same slower pace. Once you hit the track “Voices”, everything starts to sound similar, as if the band wrote an upbeat song and just played it slower and at a lower volume, but the vocalists perform it with such a monotone, unenthusiastic approach that they sound horrible. The female vocalist involved is clearly tone deaf, and that becomes insane apparent by the time you hit “Good Mood” and “Illusion 2”. The only real redeeming factor of these latter tracks is the more operatic-like vocal performance that kicks in on “Meeting with Harlequin”, though the build up to that performance with effort is horribly drawn out and very tiring.

The music is another problem. It’s understandable that some of the music would come off a little more obscure and oddly performed, considering that it is meant to be a fantastical approach in someone’s head, but the problem is that some songs just feel like a random combination of chords that often just don’t even work together and sound highly amateurish, as well as like the member playing it doesn’t really play the instruments that well in the first place. When the music actually does pick up and go into a more Progressive pace, like on “Unspoken Law”, it can be a little more enjoyable, but even then there are times where it may sound off, like random chords are being played, or the wrong chords were played and the band never went back to correct it, which happens to be the case on the stand out lead guitar chords on the opening of “Unspoken Law”, coming off enjoyable at first, but then it just sounds like mistakes are being made and it almost becomes torture to listen to.

The album does have a few redeeming factors though. Some of the slower parts that seem to focus more on the acoustics are the moments that really stand out. These typically sound like more earlier rock or folk artists, and it suits the music well, and typically they don’t feature vocals, though these moments do suit the more monotone, unenthusiastic style well. Aside that, there is a random jazz moment that appears on the song “Illusion”, which winds up sounding pretty good, though it seems to come out of practically nowhere. “Harlequin” is also an enjoyable track, mostly because the music is well done and fits the overall depressive lyrical content, but the performance itself, including the vocals, aren’t really anything impressive, but at least the music offers enough variety that the ten plus minute song doesn’t come off as repetitive or drawn out. In fact, when the music picks up near the end of the track, it actually is really enjoyable and stands out nicely on the release, though, again, doesn’t quite compare to “How it Began”. The bass, however, is something that stands out nicely on this song, as well as many other tracks on here, being loud enough to be a whole other layer for the music itself to push forward with, and really adds to the atmosphere of the songs in a positive sense.

But, the simple fact is that Beside Yourself is not a good album. Had there been a little more emphasis or effort put into the performances, then yes, it would have been something good, but, instead, it is full of alright tracks to songs that sound like they have errors or were composed by people who just picked up the instruments a few days before the recording, and the vocalists really leave nothing to be pleased about as the monotone performances, as well as tone deaf performances, will leave the listener suffering in a manner of grinding teeth and simple aurible torture. While the opera’s concept itself is great, and the lyrics aren’t half bad, Ayscobe really just needs to sit down and work on their compositions a bit more, and hone their own talents towards a positive outcome so that their next release doesn’t sound like a half-assed attempt at recreating Rush.

01. How It Began – 5:24
02. Illusion – 5:02
03. Voices – 4:50
04. Solution – 4:59
05. Good Mood – 3:23
06. Illusion 2 – 6:55
07. Meeting with Harlequin – 8:36
08. Unspoken Law – 3:44
09. Story Why – 7:00
10. Harlequin – 10:39
11. Psychose – 4:30
Overall Score: 2/10
Physical review copy of this release provided by Firefield Records.