Lately there has been a trend appearing in hardcore music, which is one we have all come to know. It is the idea that to appeal to a larger group of fans, you need to have a sound that covers more than one style of music. While some bands manage to pull this off, there are others who simply tend to go over the top and come off sounding messy. Onward to Olympas fits into the latter category quite nicely. Only a year after releasing their first full-length for Facedown records, This World Is Not My Home, the Charlotte, North Carolina band has returned with their second release with Facedown (and third full-length). The War Within Us can be a little over the top and get lost in a conglomerate of sounds, which leads it to be a somewhat fun listen from time to time, but nothing more.
It’s clear from the very beginning of the album’s first actual song “The War Within Us” just how deeply this identity crisis runs. From the booming breakdown at the beginning of the song, to the technical elements, to the clean vocals that are added to the song, it is obvious that Onward to Olympas is trying to appeal to fans of other genres, which unfortunately has the band coming off as one big melting pot of sounds.
I’m no enemy of the breakdown. I feel like when it is used in proper doses it gives the album a feeling of intensity. Unfortunately, like many albums in the metalcore genre, The War Within Us overuses the breakdown to the point of saturation. Tracks like “Hidden Eyes” and “Structures” are completely breakdown-driven and are at times somewhat headache inducing. “From the Mouth” is so filled with breakdowns that it is almost un-listenable outside of a live setting.
The biggest misfortune of the album is the fact that some potentially great songs are ruined by the over-the-top intensity of the album. “Unsuitable Patterns”, in what could have been one of the year’s great songs in the metalcore scene, is ruined by the inclusion of too many breakdowns and pinch harmonics, which can get aggravating, especially after being preceded by five tracks of similarities.
When Onward to Olympas isn’t pounding you with unnecessary breakdowns, they are making their songs ridiculously fast a la All That Remains or Shadows Fall. When a band can pull this off it can be interesting and exhilarating, but unfortunately Onward to Olympas comes off as messy. “Revealing”, “Accuser”, and “Rebuilt” are all so fast and headache inducing, it’s almost impossible to listen to these tracks without needing a break in between all of them.
What bothers me most is that Onward to Olympas definitely know how to play their instruments; they are not talentless by any means. “The March” shows that the band has the ability to slow things down a bit even if it’s just for the interlude. If Onward to Olympas was able to incorporate this sound into their other songs then they could definitely be one of the better acts in the metalcore scene. It should also be noted that clean singer Andy Simmons is incredibly consistent and solid, and really comes off as the one saving grace of the album.
Onward to Olympas is one of the latest of cases in the metalcore scene of bands that simply fall victim to the plague of misdirection. The War Within Us is an example of what happens when a band tries to do more than one thing at a time. Onward to Olympas clearly has an identity crisis, which is a shame considering that the band is very proficient at their respective instruments. The War Within Us is an album you can spin a couple of times, if you’re a fan of the genre, but even then a couple of spins is probably the most you’ll get out of this record.