Former I Am Ghost frontman Steven Juliano is back with a new band, My Immortal Enemy, and their debut album arrives in the form of ‘Akuma’.
A notable musician starting a new band should always generate excitement, but the fact that many descriptions of My Immortal Enemy online refer to it simply and ambiguously as a “project” rather than a band may set off some alarm bells.
‘Dangerous’ starts things off angry enough, but very quickly you hear all the tricks and tropes of bands like Beartooth and Atreyu; sounding as heavy as you possibly can, whilst simultaneously staying firmly in your neatly-formed confines.
There’s at least some impressive dual guitar work that rears its head, courtesy of Corey Cota and Jacklyn Paulette, that at least offers a redeeming feature, and the riffing on ‘I, Devil’lyn’ is strong enough, making for one of the better cuts.
‘Into The Blue’ has plenty of piano and string sounds peppered over it, but it unfortunately feels like there’s a disparity between the dramatic, all-encompassing song it’s meant to be, and the corny, tired merry-go-round of clichés that it is. Also, the back-and-forth vocal dynamic between Juliano and Paulette should be interesting on paper, but it more-or-less brings nothing to the table.
‘The Laughing Heart’ at least has a decent hook in the middle and will certainly invoke nostalgia for a certain type of sound. Memories of bands like Eyes To Set Kill, Alesana, and, of course, I Am Ghost may come flooding back, but it’s hard to see this record appealing to anything other than those sensibilities. There’s little in the way of distinctive qualities bar some admittedly impressive guitar work.
There’s also a number of choruses that bring the songs down rather than lift them up, with their refusal to move from their formula becoming more and more obvious as the record goes on. It all simply blends into one as you leave yourself scratching your head looking for something else to say. Records like this have been done for many, many years now, and this is so familiar that with the ending of ‘After The Funeral’, you almost want to sing “Scream! Aim! Fire!” along with it.
‘Hellos Are Harder Than Goodbyes’ is admittedly one of the better songs, but hope of any excitement or momentum has long gone at this point.
‘Akuma’ is an overly-polished affair where a lot has been thrown at it, but unfortunately there’s little to grab on to, unless you’re a natural mark for this sound. There’s definitely still an appetite for records like this, but it’d be remiss to ignore that this is a formulaic, derivative whistle-stop tour of the ghosts of Vans Warped Tour past and present. 49 minutes is far too long, and you’re forever wishing for something more.