The second record from genre-fusers ISSUES is here, with Headspace as its title. The record is first since the departure of Scout Acord from the permanent lineup of the band though is still produced and played on by him.
During the writing/recording process, vocalists Tyler Carter and Michael Bohn spoke a lot about it being a risky album with a lot of genre-breaking and irregular tactics employed but the product has come out far differently; it sounds like a progression of the style and musicianship of the members and a further exploration of their individual styles and talents rather than a change entirely. The most remarkable exploration is that of bassist Sky Acord, who until now has been used predominantly to play djent/metalcore-style riffs on his 5-string but you just have to listen to first single The Realest to hear that his funky, rhythmic style is coming out in full swing on this record.
Following the release of the Diamond Dreams EP, the band have incorporated some of the acoustic-sounding electronics in the start of some tracks (most notably to kick off Yung & Dum) and this brings a new feel to the tracks that the mainly industrial and garage electronics of the first full-length never brought; an emotion to a sound that is generated by a machine. In addition, the clean(ish) vocals from Michael mark a move in his role in the band from “screamer/unclean” to just an all round “vocalist”, and his slightly more gruff voice contrasts nicely with Tyler’s pop/hiphop-mastery in his vocals and when combined with the electronics makes for some beautiful moments within the fibre of the tracks.
The album is littered with the metalcore influences especially in the guitar and drum parts with downtuned guitars often as low as drop A# and sometimes even A, with a lot of open chording and dystopian bends, coupled with double-kick beats and cymbal crashes over the top which leave the record being pretty heavy, especially in tenth track Blue Wall.
Looking just from a vocal perspective, the harmonies of Tyler’s cleans, Michael’s semi-cleans and uncleans and backing/gang vocals bring a huge sound that can be matched by very few bands in the modern market and when this is coupled with Sky’s funk basslines and the super heavy rhythm of drummer Josh and djent-style leads from AJ it makes an (in parts) unbelievably heavy yet inherently listenable 13 songs and frankly this is one of the best releases of the last 12 months.
Standout songs from the 13 are first single The Realest for its fantastic opening to the record and setting the tone for the new ISSUES era, second single COMA for its funky opening riff and soaring chorus while having crushing moments, and Hero for being the most soulful and demonstrative song of the lot for showing what this band is and what it can be, proving they can do what they like with aplomb.
Headspace will be released Friday May 20th in stores