I, THE DREAMER released their first material in 2016, and this year marks the release of their debut EP, Shadow Hearts. They state that their sound ‘is sculpted on solid foundations within the post-hardcore community’, and that they take inspiration from the likes of SLEEPING WITH SIRENS and OF MICE & MEN. Big boots to fill in terms of the name dropping, so can Shadow Hearts prove itself as real contender in terms of new releases in the scene?
The short answer, unfortunately, is no. The five tracks form a well-rounded piece of music, but each track entirely fails to distinguish itself or build momentum from the previous one. It’s structured in a standard way with no filler tracks, and all songs are of normal length. Right from the get-go, I, THE DREAMER dive straight into uninspiring and formulaic writing with Rise, which, whilst not doing anything particularly wrong, doesn’t do much right either. The vocal performance is professional but indistinguishable from many bands in the genre, as well as the lyrics. Immediately, also, it’s evident that the mixing for the record is sub-par for professional releases in the genre nowadays.
Moving into the second track, Echoes sounds like a ballad reminiscent of Sempiternal era BRING ME THE HORIZON. The harsh vocals echo old OF MICE AND MEN and THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, but not in a nostalgic way – this is a throwback that isn’t entirely welcome. However, for fans of similar bands, this type of song for the band may be enough to appease the less critical listener. Fearless is where the band really seems to hit their stride in terms of finding their own sound, whereas other tracks on the EP feel like lunges in the dark at attempting the sounds of other big names in the genre.
The last two tracks are both fairly non-descript, save for a very obvious comparison to THE AMITY AFFLICTION. ‘The Black and White of Sleepless Nights’ actually seems to hit its stride quite well towards the end of the song, but it seems to be too little, too late. In a similar vein, A Dangerous Thing has a heavier feel to it towards the beginning of the song that brings to mind the refreshing, raw sound of WAGE WAR, but this gradually fades into more of the same sound from the beginning of the EP. Both The Black and White of Sleepless Nights and A Dangerous Thing sound very much like they could be THE AMITY AFFLICTION bonus tracks, which isn’t in itself a particularly bad thing, but it brings to mind the main problem with I, THE BREATHER – that they just haven’t found their sound yet.
From the instrumental technicality, to the professionality of both the clean and harsh vocals, it is clear that the band have potential. However, for a first EP, ‘Shadow Hearts’ is not a game changer. Fingers crossed that the band will evolve and find their own niche in the writing of their debut album.
Shadow Hearts is set for release on September 15th via Standby Records.
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