Means – To Keep Me From Sinking

Band: Means
Album: To Keep Me From Sinking
Genre: Rock/Hardcore
Label: Facedown

1. Awareness
2. Breaking In
3. Somewhere Up Ahead
4. Blackout
5. Steadily
6. We Dwell in Possibility
7. Burned Into Me
8. Refuge
9. What We Seek
10. Of Dread and Dreams

When you receive an album from Facedown Records, you expect to be rocked. Hard. Facedown is known for being a label that consistently brings some of the freshest faces in the metal world to the forefront of the underground Scene. We here at UTG have fallen in love with quite a few of their releases [in particular A Plea For Purging and Kingston Falls] so when we received the new album from Means entitled, To Keep Me From Sinking, we were a bit excited. I feverishly popped the disc into my cd player wondering what kind of brutality would be coming our way as I had never heard the band, but what I found was a more popcore sound like that of Victory Record’s artist Four Letter Lie, but with a heavier sound.

To Keep Me From Sinking is a furious ten track disc that, from the start of, “Awareness,” let’s you know you best be ready to move. Vocalist Dylan Johnson has the kind of singing voice that any band hoping to mesh hardcore and rock usually only dreams of. It’s very clean and engaging, but it’s when he screams that I become a bit turned off. It’s not that it’s bad per say, but his singing is so clean and catchy, but his screams are like that of old Comeback Kid albums and this meshing of sound doesn’t completely fit together. Regardless, “Awareness,” is a solid intro track that shows both the heavy and more punk driven sides of the band. The next track, “Breaking In,” which seems to be a metaphor for faith through struggle, but no matter what the back story is, it’s a great track. The same can be said for the third and my favorite of all the tracks on the disc, “Somewhere Up Ahead.” It’s nothing we haven’t heard before, crunching guitars, screams, soaring chorus, and gang vocals, but they’re all meshed together so well that I cannot deny how good it is. This is the kind of song that in a year people will still be putting on mixes so that all their friends can have some road trip sing alongs.

The album briefly falls into the realm of throw away songs for a bit, but recovers quite strong with, “We Dwell In Possibility,” which shines as a great choice for lead single. It’s heavy and fast, but the hook is too good to deny. These guys can write some pretty strong one liners [aka most of their hooks] and the pulsing beats, but they fail when it comes to keeping it sounding fresh. A solid example of this would be, “Refuge,” which has gang vocals and a great beat, but you just feel like you’ve heard it before on multiple albums from various bands. I get that they’re trying to pay homage to their different musical tastes [hardcore, punk, rock], but simply meshing the styles isn’t enough if you need to make it last. Don’t get me wrong, when they’re on, it’s so amazingly good you just want them to break out, but there’s a lot of moments where you just start to lose interest. However, the album does pick up very strong for the closing track, “Of Dread and Dreams.” Everyone knows I love a solid closing track because it can make or break an album and this one definitely hits all the right notes. From the strong vocals to the great drum work and solid riffs, Means really shows what they’re capable of hear. The only downfall is that we hear it just as the album is ending and though it makes the past sour notes a bit better, it just leaves you wishing they’d sounded like this for the past 30 min.

Means is a band who needs to find their footing. They have some great ideas, though not all that original, but they haven’t quite perfected how to present it. The clash of punk and metal is becoming a common place but they’re trying to present it in a fresh light. The only problem is, they haven’t quite figured out how to do it. However, they’re more than on the right path and by this time next year, I think their name may be on the lips of quite a few people in both the industry and the general listening community. This band has a bright future, they just need to, “Keep From Sinking,” into the realm of faceless knockoffs. I know they can do it and if you don’t believe, just give this disc a spin.

*Written By: James Shotwell*
GRADE: 6.5/10

James Shotwell
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