More Underoath than Underoath

Stories EP Void was not a good piece of music; it was the epitome of djent-metalcore genericism with almost no substance and nothing to set the band apart from the seemingly endless list of Volumes clones clogging up the metalcore scene. Fast forward to 2015 and things are, thankfully, very different.

First things first; The Youth to Become sounds like Underoath, a lot, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing; over the years quite a number of post-hardcore bands have taken bits and pieces from Underoath’s formula, and Stories, despite borrowing quite heavily, may just be the best band to have done this. There’s a real sense of passion within the vocal performance; the predominantly harsh vocals utilise studio space incredibly well, moving about the song at the appropriate pace and rarely, if ever, getting tired or worn out. While used sparingly the clean vocals also add a great element to the album; forget over-produced auto-cleans or high-pitched wailing, the clean vocals present here are restrained and organic, seeming more like a natural extension of one’s voice in place of a need to create immediately contrasting choruses or sing-a-long car ride moments.

Restraint really is the keyword in describing The Youth to Become, not unlike Hopesfall’s The Satellite Years, this band knows that a song can have just as great of an impact with a slowly moving instrumental section as it can with an excessively heavy beat down. This understanding of song structure and the move towards a more cautious and minimalist approach is definitely the highlight of Stories transition from EP to album; at no point does it feel as though the band has run out of ideas and just thrown in a bunch of breakdowns to pad out the record length, every note found here has a purpose and because of that the album functions incredibly well as a complete artistic piece. It doesn’t hurt that the album has been immaculately produced, at times it’s grimy but not indecipherable or polished but not the point of excess, the producers have managed to strike a perfect balance between studio sheen and an earthy, grounded texture.

It can’t be stressed enough just how much of a move forward Stories have made in this instance; these are the kinds of progression one might expect by a band’s second or third album, not their debut. The combination of spaced out ambience with relatively heavy post-hardcore isn’t an entirely original concept but outside of genre staples like Underoath you’re going to be hard pressed to find a band that does it this well. The Youth to Become is a great album, it never wears out its welcome and leaves the band with an excellent jumping off point to progress and transition forward, these kind of moments don’t come along often but when they do it’s good and in this case it’s damn good.

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