REVIEW: Outline In Color – ‘Masks’

Outline In Color

Artist: Outline In Color
Album: Masks
Genre: Post hardcore
Label: Standby Records

Back in 2012, Outline In Color officially burst onto the scene with the release of their debut full-length album, Jury Of Wolves. That album easily made its way to the number one spot on my best of 2012 list. It’s a great album, and is likely the reason the band was snatched up by Standby Records last year. The band announced earlier this year that they would be dropping their sophomore album this month, titled Masks. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been anxiously waiting to hear the group’s latest effort, and to many fans it will be well worth the wait.

After the first listen I could tell that there is a difference in the range that their frontman, KC Simonsen, is singing in. Anyone who has listened to Jury Of Wolves will know that a majority of the album has him singing in a pretty high range. With Masks, however, he is definitely singing in a slightly lower range. He does hit some high notes, though not quite as many. This is only slightly disappointing in that his voice is one of the things that really sets them apart from many other bands in this genre. They also utilize unclean vocals more on this album (which personally I am fine with).

“Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea” is the first song on Masks. It starts off with Trevor Tatro screaming his opening verse in a different style than what we’re used to hearing from him. This is something that repeats throughout the album, and it’s a welcomed addition. The unclean vocalist and clean vocalist manage to keep an entertaining dynamic that not every dual vocalist group can pull off. The next song that stands out to me is “Beautiful Secrets.” This is the third track on the album, and it has one of my favorite choruses. You don’t hear a piano in too many of the tracks on this album, so when they are utilized they add a surprisingly delicate element to the otherwise heavy music.

“The Chase Scene” is by far my absolute favorite song they’ve ever written. I hoped to find something equivalent to that on Masks, but I had no such luck. Not that there aren’t plenty of good songs to choose from, they just don’t have the same kind of influence on me. That won’t be the case for every listener, but there’s certainly that chance if that is one of your favorite songs. That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of awesome songs to choose from to be your new favorite though.

Outline In Color focus mostly on their vocals. The other instruments play a big role (obviously), but there aren’t really too many instances of the guitars or drums outshining other elements of a song. As someone that prefers to be able to hear the vocals clearly, this is definitely a plus. Don’t get me wrong though, the album has plenty of kick to it and it’s not all due to the vocals. There are a few electronic elements peppered throughout the album, and you can also hear some piano parts now and again. Their songs don’t have huge breakdowns like others in their genre, which is a refreshing change.

Though “Pick Your Poison” was technically the first single for the album, the official first single was “The Souvenir Scheme.” This is my personal favorite song. It’s one of the few songs that reminds me of Jury Of Wolves. It’s on the heavier side but there are plenty of clean vocals. The last minute and a half is my favorite part to any of the songs on the entire album. Any fan who loves to hear Simonsen show off his vocal range will thoroughly enjoy the end of this track. The song seamlessly transitions to the next track, which is a slow song much like “I’ve Had This Dream Before.” “Whispers” features only clean vocals accompanied by a piano. The structure is pretty similar to its previous-album counterpart, and the lyrics could easily be switched between the two. It’s not my favorite song, but I do enjoy it.

It would be too easy to talk about all of the different pieces of these songs that make them fun to listen to. There are not a lot of downsides to the content of this album. At first I was hoping to hear something similar to Jury Of Wolves, but after giving Masks its fair share of time it quickly grew on me. This is certainly a step up for them in terms of overall sound. My biggest complaint is some of the lyrical content. There are some verses that I find a little too cheesy. Overall their lyrics are pretty original and catchy, but there are some that are a little too over the top. Their instruments are pretty dynamic, but I believe there is a little bit of room for them to develop those elements some more. As I mentioned before the band mostly focuses on vocals, and it’s easy for the guitars and drums to seem left out in parts of some songs.

Masks might not be “mind blowing,” but it’s one of the best in this genre to come out so far this year. Any fan of post hardcore or metalcore should give it a few spins.

SCORE: 8.5/10
Review written by Kriston McConnell

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