AKissForJersey – Victims

Band: AKissForJersey
Album: Victims
Genre: Christian Rock/Metal
Label: Tragic Hero

Tracks:
1. Devices
2. Oh, Infamous City
3. Believe
4. The Fire
5. Parallels
6. A Tree and It’s Fruit
7. Faces
8. Salus Suas Extanderealas
9. II
10. The Flood
11. The Evidence

It just so happened that Christian rock outfit akissforjersey’s Victims was already a member of my music library when I recently took on the task of reviewing it, but that doesn’t mean it gets home field advantage or even a little favoritism. The “progressive” scene rock band’s second album features a rather common plot, especially with bands I’ve reviewed: the fusion of several elements of metal and alternative to form a newer spin on music and create something original. The only irony is that this is probably the most unoriginal tactic to take, and really only depends on how well a band can effectively blow your mind. Let’s just see if Victims can hold its own.

One of the first noticeable elements of the band is definitely front man Zach Dawson’s unique vocals. In the heat of the song, Dawson’s vocals can wail and reach new heights, an emotionally-charged voice that sounds like a Craig Owens-Rody Walker mashup of some sorts. (Singers of Chiodos and Protest the Hero, respectively) Depending on whether you are a fan of the aforementioned bands may hinge on how well you catch on to Dawson’s dominant voice, as the chorus-driven, usually up-tempo songs focus around the hook of Dawson’s high pitched lyrics. Dawson splits some screams with guitarist Corey Wood and bassist Tyler Lucas, but due to some crappy live Youtube videos, I can’t really tell when who does what, but all I can tell you is that the screams are throaty and commanding, but aren’t a common theme throughout the album, mostly relying on sung lyrics.

After giving a quick listen to akissforjersey’s first album Keep Your Head Above Water, it was clear to me that of the two, Victims was the faster, louder, more developed album. However, the band is a little more chill and experimental on Water, and thus a little more mainstream on Victims. The music is rock-guitar driven, with occasional metal stints and of course the poppy choruses, which is probably the sticking point with me. Album opener “Devices” evolves from Dawson’s toned down voice over a fuzzy guitar intro, and eventually breaks through to a triumphant chorus complete with background “aahs” to complement Dawson. While “Devices” is far and away the best song, “Oh, Infamous City” and “Believe” come together well. I also like the eventual buildup to the end of “Parallels” featuring a palm muted guitar set against an ambient Circa-Survive style riff. While these songs are definitely the band’s finest work, the album drops off after track five for the most part, and overall the album doesn’t really strike me as one to be replayed often in its entirety.

Let me apologize for this being my wish-washiest review yet. The band is solid and hits hard in the energy department in several songs, and Dawson’s voice reigns supreme overall, but Victims just does not appeal to me. The band’s overall style never really wows me as new and original, and it doesn’t captivate me as emotionally. The key points are Dawson’s ability to hook you in and durability of the album to keep you in with its catchy choruses and hints of hardcore. Give it a try, and maybe it will deliver…or won’t. I gave you my take on it, that’s all I can do for you guys. 

*Written By: Jacob Kanclerz*

Grade:  6/10

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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