We’re going to do this review in two parts, okay?
I. Perhaps it was just me, but when A Skylit Drive released their debut EP She Watched the Sky in 2007, I was immediately on board. Possibly, Jordan Blake (former vocalist) was too much of a reason as to why I absolutely fell in love with what I was hearing. Looking back now, I can honestly say that I may have exaggerated my passion for ASD.
Of course, not long after I became partially obsessed with the band, news of Blake’s departure spread through the emo-core world. Enter Michael “Jag” Jagmin – and boy, was I pissed.
And so came the next five years (2008-2012). With each passing album ASD released under Jag’s leadership, disappointment sunk in deeper and deeper. Was there really that much of a difference between the two vocalists that could cause this extreme turnaround of taste? I came to the conclusion that it was all some trick-er-ation of the mind, or so it seemed.
In late 2011, however, there was a glimmer of hope (much like Alesana had done with their Punk Goes… cover) when ASD released “Love the Way You Lie” on the latest addition to the Punk Goes… collection. To this day, it is one of the better covers I have ever heard and perhaps it changed my perspective in ways.
Shall we get to it, then – enough of all this historical crap.
II. Honestly, I was excited to hear about the new release, which unfortunately comes only a week after The Devil Wears Prada’s release, but it surprisingly holds its own quite nicely when comparing. Rise, the band’s fourth full-length album is, in a nutshell, their best. Possibly, perhaps, maybe it is just that Jag’s sound has finally grown on me? Or is it that Blake’s grip on what I know ASD to be is finally releasing its hold?
The sound has progressed and Jag’s vocals are less screechy/whiny than I remember them to be. It is extremely similar to their cover back in 2011, in that, I like it. A few tracks of note – “I, Enemy”, “Rise”, “Fallen” and “Just Stay”.
The first is monumentally epic and melodic when compared to most of what they have done in the past. “I, Enemy” is outrageously transcending and catchy – if you can’t tell, I think it’s quite brilliant. The title track is equally firm in its relentless hold on you. The chorus really grabs at you, but while the music remains fairly steady throughout, the constant wonder as to how my impression with Jag’s vocals has changed so miraculously remains unknown to me.
“Fallen” is actually a bonus track on the deluxe edition, but it was released to YouTube a few months ago. Needless to say, it was the prime reason for my excitement in anticipation for Rise. This track alone is worth the extra $2.00, but you also get an extra (Demo) version of “Just Stay”. The ballad of the album is simply stunning and portrays Jag in a very sentimental moment, allowing the listener to really “eat up” his goodness. While his tone continues to surprise me throughout the record, it really amazes me in this track, mainly due to its intimacy.
Overall, A Skylit Drive have pieced together a spectacular addition to their growing collection. Impressionably it is favorable from start to finish, ranging from classic ASD sounds while incorporating Jag’s phenomenal increase in vocal likability. Is it perfect? No – but it really rouses something in me, especially for whatever is to come next. Good work fellas.