Review by Shannon Shumaker
Outline In Color’s new album, Struggle is a monumental release. Fourteen tracks in length, you’re bound to feel exhausted after Struggle comes to an end, as each track is ambitious, high energy, and filled to the brim with emotion. Whether it’s a slower song like the piano driven opening track, or wild and explosive like “Calm,” each song on Struggle is well written, each and every instrument pulling its weight, creating a very full and intricate release.
Opening track, “Paradise Is Burning” is hauntingly beautiful. One of the slowest songs on the album, it really sets the mood for Struggle with eerie instrumentals and stunning vocal work before transitioning into the huge and theatrical second track, “Dead Gardens.” The haunting quality from the first song carries over into “Dead Gardens,” despite the vast contrast in sound between the two songs. The screams in this second track are powerful, wild and demand your attention, and the contrasting clean vocals come in at just the perfect moments, creating an incredible blend of sound. Not only that, but “Dead Gardens” is incredibly easy to listen to. The theatrics are all there, especially in the subtle orchestral elements and flamenco inspired guitar work that comes in toward the end of the song and catches you completely off guard. Every wild twist and turn in the song makes complete sense while blowing you away at the same time, and by the time it comes to an end, it shows great promise for the rest of the record.
The following song, “Eat Your Heart Out” is angry and aggressive, starting off with a sound bite of a passionate argument, and the energy only builds from there. Lyrically, the song mirrors the aggressive sound and the screams shake you to the core, but then, just when it almost becomes too much, the clean vocals come in with a surprisingly hopeful and bright sounding chorus. “Eat Your Heart Out” grows as it moves forward, ending on a surprisingly high note, as well. Then comes “Alive,” carried primarily by massive guitar work, and “The Way The World Turns,” which is on the softer side in the clean vocals, carried by pounding drums and aggressive screams in the verses.
While these typical song structures of aggressive, screamed verses and clean choruses can tend to sound a bit similar, it keeps the album chugging forward with incredible energy. On top of that, there are definitely quite a few standout tracks that shake things up. Instrumentally, “The Monster In The Mirror” is one of those. The staccato guitar work and slower chorus filled with beautiful vocal harmonies stand apart from the pack. “My Other Car Is A Time Machine II” is another versatile song, as it starts off with soft, clean vocals and stunning guitar work. Later in the song, the screams and bass work carry things along, changing the tone completely.
“The Calm” is easily one of the more versatile and wild tracks on the album. The beginning of the song is reminiscent of the eerie intro of “Paradise Is Burning,” but with some bright string instruments thrown in the mix. Then, just before you can get too comfortable, it explodes into one of the least “calm” songs on the album. The vocals and instrumentals on this track are absolutely insane, but intercut with these really interesting piano parts. The result is remarkable. The following song, “The Storm,” is nearly as wild, but ends how “The Calm” begins, with stunning vocals and piano.
Switching things up even more is one of the final tracks on Struggle, “Something We Can Dance To.” The beautiful love song is a stark contrast to the energy and aggression on the rest of the album, proving that Outline In Color are capable of practically anything - but at this point in the album, that comes as no surprise. “Something We Can Dance To” is the first of the final three songs on the album, as well, and the following song, “From The Bottom Of My Black Heart” follows suit with a much brighter sounding chorus, ending things on a high note. “I Will Struggle” is the epic, heartbreaking conclusion to the album, and by the time it comes to an end, you’re bound to feel as if you’ve been on a journey. Struggle is not only theatrical, but emotionally powerful, aggressive and raw. There’s a little bit of something for everyone on this release, and Outline In Color never once has to try to be something they’re not. Struggle may just be their best release to date.
Listen to "Dead Gardens" "Eat Your Heart Out" or "The Calm"
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