At first sight, everything from the band’s name, Forever Sets the Sun, to the colorful mess of ethereal artwork, and even the clichéd album title, Aurora Tides, sounds like a rehash of most run-of-the-mill scene bands that clutter Rise Records’ lineup and maintain a crushing chokehold on a metalcore genre being deprived of creativity. So where do the unsigned Oklahoma rockers stand with their debut full-length effort? After ten tracks of a pretty standard balanced attack of clean vocals meshing with full-throated screams, the record will most likely be met with a resounding “Eh.”
“Dawn” opens the album with a soft twinkling of piano chords, which would come across as new and innovative if it hadn’t been done to death by the rest of the metalcore scene. It sets the tone for the album well, with some heartfelt clean vocals by lead singer Mikey Sawyer overshadowed by Dakota Elam’s angst-driven screams.
The rest of the album follows suit by trying to drown out the clean vocals as often as possible with screams that even Attack Attack would be ashamed of. Sawyer’s vocals, along with some blistering work by DeAngelo Deranek behind the drum kit, are highlights on “Within Obstructions,” but the rest of the band quickly resorts back to overblown breakdowns and cringeworthyscreams as a crutch when the track hits its stride. Even the riffs sound dull and uninspired after carrying on for a while.
“Infatuation” almost entirely kicks Sawyer’s clean vocals, save for an enormous chorus that showcases a nice range, to the curb in favor of heavier vocals that run rampant through the track, at least until the song drops into a quick foray into ballad territory, then building back into bitter metalcore fodder.
For what it’s worth, the band rarely deviates from the tried and proven formula of a long build-up, a quick excursion into limited instrumentation and clean vocals, and a phoned-in attempt at a brutal breakdown to close out the track. But the formula, for as many bands that have cashed in on it, makes it feel like the same song is on repeat for the vast majority of the album, especially with songs like “The Distance” and “Aurora Tides” that are the musical equivalent of identical twins.
There are some bright spots though, that the young outfit should look to as inspirations to grow as artists into grizzled veterans of the metalcore genre. “Havens and Harbours” is driven by Sawyer’s raw emotions over some adrenaline-fueled guitars, and “In Stars Reach” is a sincere instrumental interlude that is a breath of fresh air sandwiched between tracks heavy on ear-splitting screams.
Forever Sets the Sun’s debut sinks into the muddled mess of generic albums without any standout facet to call their own, but with both a change in direction and the inspiration for growth of sound, hopefully the sun won’t set quite yet on this fast-learning metalcore band.