REVIEW: I See Stars – Renegades Forever

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Artist: I See Stars
Album: Renegades Forever
Genre: Remix/Rarities
Label: Sumerian

Roughly a year and a half has passed since Michigan’s I See Stars released their third album, Digital Renegade. Our review of the record applauded the group’s efforts to further create a niche all their own, but thought they were still struggling to find the right balance of electronica, metal, and pop elements within their music. The group hit the road shortly after the album’s release and, aside from a run in with the law or two, spent the months that followed performing for fans around the world. Those same fans are now chomping at the bit for something new, and to satisfy that demand I See Stars have delivered a remix and leftovers effort entitled Renegades Forever.

Thinking back, there are only a handful of bands in the alternative scene that have ever pulled off the art of the remix release. There is nothing wrong with releasing a remix effort, of course, but few bands have a sound that lends itself to the artform that is deconstructing something beloved and creating something new and equally, if not more, exciting. See Stars are certainly the ideal choice for such a project, as their embrace of EDM from early days has made their later efforts ripe for reworking, and those looking for a workout’s worth of such material will find exactly what they’re hoping to find with this release. Eight of the eleven tracks are reworkings of Digital Renegade favorites, as well as a 3D highlight, and unless you take issue with the use of dubstep they’ll serve their purpose of making you want to gyrate under flashing lights with no care for the outside world. To say I know enough about EDM to pick them apart any further would be a disservice, so as someone who enjoys the world of electronica remixes on a purely surface level these are all perfectly acceptable.

Beyond the remixes, Renegades Forever offers three quasi-new tracks to help hold fans over until actual new material can be written, recorded, etc. Most have already heard the reworking of Bane’s “Can We Start Again,” and whether or not you enjoy it is probably tied to how much you love the original. For me it’s a perfectly acceptable reinterpretation when viewed through the scope of what I See Stars have done to make it their own. It’s aggressive in a new way, and for the generation of music fans that never knew Bane it plays as good as an original, so what harm is done? “This Isn’t A Game Boy” is the only other full band b-side, and it’s as close to a ballad as I See Stars should ever come. That is, until the acoustic version of the fan favorite “Underneath Every Smile” rolls around to prove yes, vocalist Devin Oliver can indeed belt with the best of them. Acoustic versions are nothing new for b-side records, but given the immense amount of studio magic that goes into an ISS record it’s nice to be reminded there actually are talented people behind it all.

In terms of satisfying the hunger for new material I See Stars fans around the world have been feeling, Renegades Forever is a admirable offering that falls short of being something great. The remixes are fun, and as I said above the slower b-sides offer a fresh perspective on the group, but there is virtually nothing on this release you’ll remember in six months, let alone when the group actually does release a new album. If it were a real mixtape being given away for free I would tell you to download Renegades Forever immediately, but seeing as it is being sold on every digital retailer as if it were any other offering I’m going recommend only ISS diehards dive in. If you’re on the fence, let this album stream help you figure things out.

SCORE: 7/10
Review written by: James Shotwell (Twitter)

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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