With the departure of once co-vocalist Michael Bohn last year and the increasing leniency towards contemporary pop on previous record, ‘Headspace’, fans of Issues were curious (and to a certain extent for some, worried) as to where the quartet would head.
Working tighter as a unit, ‘Beautiful Oblivion’ sees now sole lead vocalist Tyler Carter, guitarist AJ Robello, bassist Skyler Acord, and drummer Josh Manuel deliver the strongest display of their vision so far.
Opening with the unexpected ‘Here’s To You’, they showcase a restrained and moody take on their side, allowing Carter to prove that he can create a harsh impact without resorting to screamed vocals. Moving swiftly into their signature brand, ‘Drink About It’ and ‘Find Forever’ bring shimmering melodies and bouncing riffs, with the latter also serving a soulful vocal coda alongside djent inspired trills courtesy of Robello that compliment the sugary chorus.
As the record progresses, the group continue to relentlessly explore various styles, as ‘Without You’ melds funk, neo-soul, and nu-metal with ease. Tying buzz saw riffs and sultry vocals together, Acord crafts a slinking bass line that dictates the multiple stylistic changes coherently.
The same can also be said for the shapeshifting ‘Rain’. Jumping between sprawling guitars, pop-punk inspired choruses, and groove-laden breakdowns, the track covers numerous aspects with ease. Supported by economic structures and a frenetic energy, the group create a love letter to multiple genres with an honesty that shines through.
As with their past efforts, the exploration of genres is a key element to the record, as ‘Second Best’ delivers an infectious hard rock track with Manuel adding a towering beat behind the catchy chorus.
From the disco infused ‘Flexin” to the crunching title-track closer, the second half doesn’t give up any momentum. With clamouring riffs weaving throughout ‘Get It Right’, and tender piano chords swimming through ‘Your Sake’, Issues deliver a collection of tracks in which nearly any one of them could be a single.
As ‘Beautiful Oblivion’ unfolds, it becomes clear that any expectancy of what the record would or could be is null and void. Yet again walking the tightrope between crushing riffs and snaking melodies, Issues prove once again that there are no boundaries to what they can create, and that there’s more to discover within heavy music today.