|Deathcore, Post-Hardcore, Techno
June 28th, 2011
Release length: 42:30
Honestly, the second this release stated, I immediately ran to the Apoch’s Metal Review facebook page and proclaimed I had no idea what I was listening to. It sounded like torture to my ears, but the more I listened to it and the more research I did, the more I began to understand this band and the concept, or at least what I perceived to be the concept. According to the internet, The Bunny is represented by Matthew Tybor, who typically appears more in the Synthpop material with clean singing, while The Bear is represented by Chris Hutka. The band even uses the masks in their promotional photo shoots as more of an extension of these personalities. Of course, blending Synthpop into Metal is a new practice, and this isn’t the first band to try to incorporate it into a heavier sound, whether it’s through the guttural Deathcore growls and border-line style-related breakdowns, or the Post-Hardcore attitude and sound with whiny screaming vocals. This experimental sound, without thinking along these or similar lines may make one immediately consider this group a synth-driven knock off of Iwrestledabearonce, but in comparison this group is actually far more interesting and talented. The production of the album, obviously, is very clean, which pushes the synth elements of the album and some of the Techno sections, and it sounds good for that, but at the same time it does cause the “core” parts of the music to suffer a bit on their own without being accompanied with those catchier tones. The guitars are still pretty heavy, more along the lines of Deathcore bluntness with a strong bass presence that adds to it with a drum kit that features a nice thud to the bass kick, alright snares that feel as if they’re held a bit back in the recording quality, and decent cymbols, each part of it at proper levels more to accomodate the synths then the rest of the music.
The audio quality holding back the “-core” in the music shows through right away with the introduction track “Prelude to Pregnancy”, a song title the obviously is related sex and not the only one on here to do so, going to some rather large extremes to get the point of this accross in titles such as “It’s a Long Way from the Esophagous to the Ovaries”. The synths kick in pretty stron here despite that the track was meant more as a breakdown introduction, but it makes you aware those will be the main draw of the album, and they really do take over. “Aisle” kicks in with some really heavy guitars and bass that surprisingly make a nice contrast to these synths and work together with the guitars adding the deeper tone to the higher pitch synths, giving one side what the other side lacks. The vocals here seem to favor more female-esque vocals (which are just higher pitched male vocals), which is where the Iwrestledabearonce similarities will shine through in the manner of the performance, and it’s not the only track to feature them, but this is about where it ends. The song itself is actually really enjoyable and strong despite the synths being a bit too higher pitched and the inclusion of some really whiny Hardcore screaming, an issue that plagues many of the songs on this release. But the most important part is that, despite it’s overall heaviness, the song is just fun to listen to and very well done, and it doesn’t stop here.
“Ocean Floor” really showcases the band well, really focusing on some great Techno elements, adding more gutturals to the mix, and the clean male singing here is fantastic and very talented, clearly more pop driven but without having to resort to auto tuning, which is perhaps the most amazing thing of this album: No auto tuning in the vocals! There does seem to be some altering, but it’s more in distortion to bring the clean singing to higher pitches, but still feel natural and not robotic in any sense, which is a welcome approach instead of going with the more obvious, well excepted, and most expected method of auto tuning. This track does feature more whiny shouting vocals then others that will have your teeth grinding along, but like “Aisle”, it’s very minimal. But this track may bring up concepts of bands like Hollywood Undead, a comparison one might find more in following tracks, like the next song “Ces’t Pas Si Lion,” but the song’s slower, more passionate performance and overall sad music really just captures the listener’s attention right away and shows the talent that The Bunny, as well as the rest of the band possesses. And, again…the whiny screaming, but surprisingly for this one, it works.
There’s not much that really seems to hold the album back. The song “Lust Touch Seed” is a pretty strong track, though not the most powerful off the album, and it really just reaffirms the fact that the whiny screaming vocals here really just hurt the album more then they aid it by adding an Emo influenced Hardcore element to it. But with this track, the rest of the album does kind of slowly become less unique with both styles working together with that aforementioned contrast, and instead going more in the direction of just straight forward Synthpop. “Rough Eyes” becomes the more important example of this, and while the song is still enjoyable, it’s not that unique at all actually outside the shouting and gutturals that appear. It’s honestly a little odd to watch this happen as the album really does seem to take on more of a mainstream appeal and focuses more on The Bunny then the two personas working together. “Alley” does basically reintroduce The Bear back into the mix after a number of just traditional Synthpop songs with a more serious nature. It’s not that these songs are bad, but the fluidity and the way the different approaches work together are what really makes this album so great and to just focus on one is a really bad idea. Honestly, the gap without The Bear caused the music to become rather bland and boring, and though much of his performance on this track lies in the chorus, it’s refreshing to see both personas and the varying styles working together again, giving the listener a pretty strong wake up call that was greatly needed, leading into the more upbeat and once more fun closing track “Path” which is another impressive track, though it’s breakdown, like the others on here, ends up not being too impressive and does feel a it tacked on this time around.
The Bunny the Bear definitely has a strong concept going on if the interpretation mentioned above is accurate. The band brings in so many different elements and for all but one of them does it so well. The only problems lie in the stronger focus on the Synthpop later on that seems to feed the ego of the persona of The Bunny more then anything, and those whiny shouting vocals that really serve no point whatsoever and clash horribly between every other element in this recording. Other then that, this is perhaps one of the most unique offerings available today, and it really does become a very impressive breath of fresh air. There’s plenty of potential and talent in here, and while the breakdowns may not be the strongest, they are kept to a minimum, like the teeth grinding whiny shouting vocals, and really focuses on trying to combine solid “-core” elements with today’s more mainstream Synthpop sound without feeding into the more annoying stereotypes that latter style usually drags along with it, like auto tuned vocals, the scourge of today’s popular musical trends that needs to be castrated from music all together with a blunt, rusty knife until the day it dies a horrible death. Overall, If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say is a spectacular effort that does have some elements to it that makes you want to slam your head against a brick wall to understand why they’re in place, but overall it’s a breath of freshair that simply needs to be heard and given time to grow on you, as well as give your brain time to digest the “concept” of The Bunny and The Bear.
But the one thing your brain may not be able to process with this no matter how you look at it is that what you perceive in concept and music is not what’s really happening: The Bunny is actually the persona who handles gutturals, and the bear is the one who does clean singing, which you will not even consider unless you see the band live or the music video for “Aisles”.
01. Prelude to Pregnancy – 1:01
02. Aisle – 4:23
03. Ocean Floor – 3:38
04. Ces’t Pas Si Lion – 3:35
05. It’s a Long Way from the Esophagus to the Ovaries – 3:24
06. Lust Touch Seed – 4:26
07. 396.17 – 3:19
08. Rough Eyes – 4:21
09. Sympathy for the Queen of Lies – 4:36
10. Alley – 3:55
11. Path – 5:51
|Overall Score: 8.5/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Victory Records.