Michigan’s I See Stars
first reached my ears when I saw them in 2009 with Asking Alexandria
, Attack Attack
!, Breathe Carolina
, and a couple other screamo bands. At this time, I See Stars
(and most of the other bands on that tour) were pretty new; most of them having only one album out. To be honest, I don’t really remember their set at all from this show, which probably implies that I wasn’t hugely impressed or disgusted by them (making them unmemorable). In 2011, after I had almost completely forgot about them, I saw someone wearing an I See Stars
shirt and decided that it was time to look them up. I decided to listen to their two albums in chronological order and found 3D to be very rough and not solid at all. It was the first song off End
of the World Party (you can read my review on the album) that really grabbed my attention. Since I am very aware of how Sumerian Records treats their bands, I’m assuming that the label spend a lot of time working with them and helping them to solidify their sound and tighten everything up. In other words, their second album was quite an improvement. Now less than a year later, here comes I See Star’s newest product, Digital Renegade
I’m not going to do TOO much comparing here, but I will say that the amount of dubstep and techno elements used is far greater than ever. Most of the dubstep sounds occur during breakdowns; acting as background effects behind the crunching guitars and drums. Also, there is A LOT more screaming in this album than in the two previous records. I guess the biggest change in the overall sound is that it sounds less atmospheric; it doesn’t have as much of that mystical/trance feel that End
of the World Party had.
I already know that the occasional auto-tune that the singer uses is purely for effect. Why
? Because he can sing perfectly without it; he can do it in the studio and on stage. And
here’s the reason it doesn’t really bother me: it’s not used during the metal parts, only the techno parts, and it fits the music because it has that electronic/digital sound that I See Stars
is known for. I did make this pretty clear in my review of their second album: there isn’t really that much about I See Stars
that I DON’T like, it’s just that the things that I DO like aren’t good enough to get a super high rating. The unfortunate thing about Digital Renegade
is that most of the good qualities are starting to deteriorate a bit.
The biggest problem I have with this album is that even though the songs differentiate a LITTLE from each other, they still sound WAY too much alike. I had a hunch that this would be a problem before I even started listening to Digital Renegade
because it’s hard to be this prolific in songwriting and still maintain a very high quality in the new material. In other words, I feel that I See Stars
rushed to put this album together and finished with a product with less quality than End
of the World Party. Fortunately, it’s not a disaster; but they’re really going to have to make a big step to make up for this loss.
Overall, this album has plenty of memorable moments and vibrant colors within the music, but not a lot of quality. I would recommend this album only to true screamo fans because this is far from being one of the best releases in the genre. I would give this 10/20. But if you are curious to hear this; by all means listen to it!