It seems that it’s finally starting to click to bands that having a generic sound means that you’ll be passed up by someone who’s newer and more relevant for the time being, and metalcore Ohioans My Ticket Home figured this out at just the right time. As bands on Rise Records gain popularity for doing nothing original, bands like MTH get pushed back because of a failing system, and ultimately came to an impasse in their music – thus, they welcomely bring us Strangers Only, a furious record of converged ’90s nu-metal and early 2000s hardcore. Early Slipknot, Mudvayne, and Deftones come to mind when opener “Spit Not Chewed” rips through your ears. The sound is totally changed, and in many facets in a way no one expected.
Progression is defined as moving forward, and in essence not replicating something that’s been done; but I define progression as change, and whether or not that change is entirely unique doesn’t take away from the principle. The record is a rather large shotgun barrel of explosive firepower, and in its most belligerent moments (“Teenage Cremation”, “Ayahuasca”) it doesn’t stop until it’s over. Musically, the better quirks of nu-metal show up in interesting guitar harmonics, call-and-response style vocals, and even scratchy vinyl slides (Linkin Park’s “Mr. Hahn” anyone?).
Lately, it seems like more and more bands are breaking free of their generi-core molds to do something off-the-cuff and rather unexpected (Stray from the Path’s Anonymous, for example). In the continuous aggression of Strangers Only, you get doused in mostly jagged guitar flame (“Hot Soap”, “Keep Alone”) courtesy of Matt Gallucci and Derek Blevins, who shine more on this record than any other previous MTH effort. But in no regard does Marshal Giumenti’s drumming take a back seat; it’s pissed off and it works (“Painfully Bored”). Now to say that this record has something different in every song is an obvious stretch, but it was intentional. Their goal wasn’t to reinvent a genre or reinvent an idea, but rather to reinvent themselves and exactly what weight the Rise Records badge carries to them.
It’s not all beatdowns however; there are brief respites that tell us that the melodic sides of these gentlemen are still around, such as in “Head Change”, where drawn out sections of grooves and texturized vocals reach a bit further inward before taking charge on an explicitly loud chorus. It’s still heavy, but comparatively much less so. Speaking of the clean vocals, they’re a bit processed for my taste in some parts, but many of the rougher sections stick, and in that gritty undertone the forceful-ness of the lyrics comes to the front. By the end there’s a sense of fulfillment, something well-constructed and not confusing, making its way out without a multitude of twists for the sake of remaining presumably interesting.
There’s a consistent ebb and flow overall with the record, and in a neat little metal package as well. My Ticket Home, in all-inconclusive irony, have found their ticket home – in the form of a genre change that with continued refinement and diligence, will allow them to break out of the mold they’ve been buried in for far too long. Strangers only? Not anymore.