If nothing else, A Skylit Drive are a band with a clear evolution. Their latest sound, aided by a candy-crisp production and melodic pop sensibilities, see the band making a clear deviation from the throat-shredding work of previous albums. Despite a solid back catalogue and dedicated touring, it’s never quite come together for the California quintet, who have recently found themselves in the shadow of some fast-rising post-hardcore juggernauts. It’s a shame then that ‘Rise’ is unlikely to, ahem, elevate them beyond the level of the genre leaders.
But, let’s not get down on the album too early. A Skylit Drive have pieced together some seriously infectious melodies here. Admittedly, fans who are yet to adjust to Michael Jagmin‘s pop-centric vocals may be discouraged by the radio-friendliness of it all, but the shamelessly catchy chorus of the album’s title-track and ‘Wide Awake’ and the so-bad-it’s-good boy band emo of ‘Just Stay’ points to some rather deft songwriting skills. Jagmin can still unleash the beast when he want to, and tracks ‘Shadows’ and ‘I, Enemy’ are just as likely to incite chaos in the pit as they are singing en-masse.
So, it’s got the hooks and it’s got the singalongs, but what brings ‘Rise’ down is the lack of a distinct identity, something that bands like Sleeping With Sirens and Pierce The Veil have managed to perfect in their latest releases. These bands have crafted the personality of their music, whether it’s biting bro-down bravado or bleeding-heart unit shifter sweetness. A Skylit Drive may have been there first, but their music has never been quite as captivating. In ‘Rise’, they have continued their trajectory into mainstream territory, but with Kellin Quinn and Vic Fuentes looming on the scene, nicking the post-hardcore kids with the candy hearts, it’s difficult to see A Skylit Drive getting much of a look-in with their latest effort.
‘Rise’ is a good record. A hefty helping of pop melody has made their sound more palatable for the mainstream while maintaining a metallic edge. Each chorus is a bright spot and Jagmin gets to exercise his range, but their infectiousness in still not enough to escape the creeping feeling of mediocrity around A Skylit Drive‘s sound. In another time, perhaps, but in the well-catered for scene of 2013, ‘Rise’ falls short of the heavy hitters.
Written by Grant Bailey