Album Review: SHATTERED SUN The Evolution of Anger
Should we kick this off by making a terrible joke about how The Evolution of Anger is anything but an evolution? Or maybe we could rib on how Shattered Sun’s sophomore record is exactly what every high school edgelord thinks heavy music should sound like? Eh, the easiest thing would be to fish out that old review I wrote for Bullet for my Valentine’s Fever and just change the song titles.
Tough choices, but The Evolution of Anger doesn’t give much to work with. This all certainly reads like a critical decimation, but that said, it's hard to genuinely dislike the Texan sextet's sophomore record. Let's be clear: The Evolution of Anger is not good — this is about as by-the-numbers as melodic metalcore gets — but Shattered Sun avoids many of the more egregious pitfalls that plague their more well-known contemporaries, and you could certainly do far worse for the genre.
No time is wasted on hokey ballads, flow-breaking instrumentals, monotonous onslaughts of copy-pasted breakdowns or any of that other nonsense. What you get is 10 songs that are as consistently listenable as they are unspectacular. No muss, no fuss, but also absolutely no ambition or creativity.
Though Shattered Sun isn't rewriting genre conventions, The Evolution of Anger has just enough bite and melody to offset its otherwise damning averageness. Opener "Keep Your Eyes Shut" displays Shattered Sun's strengths best and kicks off the record on a reasonably high note. Mid-paced guitars thrash about with ample energy and pair well with the intelligible screaming, while subtle instrumental variations keep the rest of the music’s relative simplicity from becoming route.
Surprisingly, the band’s clean vocals are by far the strongest aspect of the music. “Keep Your Eyes Shut” is elevated by a legitimately impressive chorus that serves as one of the record’s few standout bits, and Shattered Sun deserves particular praise for nailing a vocal style that often acts as a detriment to the genre. Metalcore stereotypes of whiny and nasally singing are mostly subverted in favor of lively and powerful choruses, and though none of the later vocal lines match those on “Keep Your Eyes Shut,” nearly all of the album’s clean verses are nonetheless enjoyable.
Unfortunately, the band’s harsh vocals don’t fare anywhere near as well. The screaming’s middling intensity and complete lack of variation grows tiresome mere minutes into the record, and while their aforementioned coherency is a definite plus, it’s not enough to stop major chunks of the record from blending together.
On the bright side, Shattered Sun’s lack of breakdowns — one of the band’s few divergences from genre convention — is especially appreciated. The Evolution of Anger generously borrows from thrash metal, and there's enough guitar sweeps and solos sprinkled throughout the record to combat the worst of the monotony, though none of it is remotely exciting enough to stand out or otherwise impress. Even with the thrash influences, there's less flow here and more blending together into an uninspired mishmash of vaguely aggressive loudness.
Aside from the solid opener, highlights — and we're being exceptionally generous with that term — are limited to lead single "Burn it Down" and "Declassified." The former boasts a nice chorus and some good melodic guitar lines. The latter lacks the above-average singing, but retains the solid riffing.
Oh, and "Like Gasoline" has an excellent 10-second quiet break near its ending, which is mostly enjoyable because it's literally the record's sole moment of true variation.
And that's it, really. In 10 tracks, The Evolution of Anger offers a few minutes of material that you might be able to recall an hour after listening. It's worth repeating that there's nothing so egregiously wrong here to actively hate, but that's a pretty pathetically low bar to set.
Melodic metalcore enthusiasts will be happy to know that there's relatively new and at least somewhat competent blood on the scene, and again, you could do far, far worse. But for everyone else, your time is much, much better spent elsewhere.