July 20, 2010 - Fearless
Mixing genres is nothing new. The Clash incorporated dub influences into their pioneering punk sound to great effect; bands like Damnation A.D. and Converge pioneered a revolution in heavy music by melding metal and hardcore; and the pop-punk path is so well trodden as to be accepted unanimously as its own genre by fans and bands alike. Even ska was originally an amalgamation of reggae rhythms and soul. It was inevitable then that bands would begin combining even these subgenres, the result of which could be brilliant or downright dreadful. Take the ska/pop-punk craze of the late ’90s and early aughts. Some crashed and burned; others can still draw a crowd. What makes these concoctions groundbreaking or embarrassing is hard to pin down but there is rarely any middle ground.
For All Those Sleeping have found that middle ground, creating a pop-punk/metalcore hybrid that is more bewildering and unsettling than it is enjoyable. The band’s debut album, Cross Your Fingers begins with a bit of cookie-cutter pop-punk a la every Audition album after Controversy Loves Company. “Outbreak Of Heartache” starts off hooky, but is nothing to write home about. Then comes the machine-gun double bass and guttural vocals particular to the cheesy “heavy” bands popular with the shopping-mall set. The change in style is jarring at first, then downright laughable as the reality of the choices this band have made sinks in.
For All Those Sleeping have taken an ordinary but enjoyable pop-punk flavor and sullied it with a cheap gimmick: the addition of what they no doubt see as a tough aftertaste. The whole things feels contrived and leaves you wishing they’d just stuck with the pop and punk influences and eschewed the heavy stuff. It’s a shame they didn’t, because the gentler side of For All Those Sleeping has potential. “I Hate To See You Go” and the unfortunately titled “He’s Dead Because Mommy Killed Him” show a band in the early stages of solid (if unoriginal) songwriting. But when the major chords and programmed beats of “Favorite Liar” kick in, then give way immediately to a down-tuned breakdown and snarling vocals, it’s clear For All Those Sleeping are a band still in search of a sound, not a band who have created one all their own.
(And a little side note to the band: selling girls track shorts with your band’s initials on the hiney is cool, so long as those initials aren’t FATS. Expect meager sales of this particular item.)