A Day to Remember has “This is a battleground,” Woe, Is Me has “This is our vengeance,” and now I See Stars has “This is reality.” With the latter’s new album entitled Digital Renegade, they have done the Attack Attack! self-titled album the right way.
It is a tricky thing mixing the electronic, dubstep, poppy parts of songs with breakdowns and chugs. In fact, it’s so tricky that a lot of bands cannot seem to do it right, instead including awkward transitions and non-flowing pieces of seemingly different songs.
Another thing that bands in this genre often fall victim to is a lack of musical growth. They keep creating the same things over and over again until it can be considered ‘beating a dead horse’. While I See Stars is evolving (ish) musically, the song titles nonsensically stay the same. From “Gnars Attacks” to “NZT48,” it’s a game in itself decoding them.
This does not make the album any less enticing, however. The entire album flows with natural transitions from piece to piece. For instance, instead of going straight from a poppy chorus to a two-step, they are able to blend from clean choruses to electronics and finally to the breakdown everyone anticipates. This seemingly small accomplishment makes a huge impact on the album. Instead of sounding choppy and mismatched, Digital Renegade flows from each song as gracefully as this genre makes possible.
The first song “Gnars Attacks” is a good example of this structure. The song fades in with a drum roll and string combination paired with group vocals which flow into the verses that are void of clean vocals until the chorus. The clean vocals are the telltale identity of what band you are listening to- if you did not know before, you know now. Devin Oliver is the signature piece of I See Stars thanks to his somehow not-whiny voice.
The second song is catchier when it comes to melodies. The focus is more on the clean vocals and dubstep/electronic parts until the middle of the track, where a breakdown predictably (but awesomely) rears its head.
Something unexpected in the album is the guest appearance by Cassadee Pope (Hey Monday). Usually guest vocals in bands like this are a commodity with Jonny Craig or Craig Owens or some other Craig-like figure, and Hey Monday vocals are expected with All Time Low-type bands. I See Stars brings the genres to unity by switching things up, and it sounds surprisingly good.
Digital Renegade is epic through and through; I See Stars combines all the sounds that these other bands try to squeeze in, and they do it cleverly.