June 19, 2012 - Hollywood Waste
Lions Lions have an arsenal of seasoned musicians in their lineup, spanning notable names from the New England scene such as Vanna, A Loss For Words and Therefore I Am. But they've struggled to hone their sound through a small handful of releases since 2008's debut mini-album Direction. While growing pains still seem to hamper the band, To Carve Our Names is easily the closest they've come to crafting a unique and enjoyable sound.
To Carve Our Names largely offers a dark, melodic, occasionally over-processed alternative-rock/post-hardcore mix not unlike Cove Reber-era Saosin. Stir in frontman Josh Herzer's lower vocal register, the band's intermittent tendency to hit punk tempos (opener "Milestones," the Silverstein-esque "Carry On"), and the rare electronic flourish and Lions Lions are kinda, sorta doing their own thing. Still, results vary. They make a nice crack at launching huge choruses and stadium-sized riffs ("The Undertow," "Grounded," the particularly compelling hook for "Letting Go"), and they're pretty decent attempts. Every so often they'll counteract Herzer with heavier guitars and throat-searing barks that verge on mosh-part territory (think Thrice's "Silhouette"), and the end product ranges from feeling a little forced ("White Flag") to not bad ("Stable As Stone," "Losing Balance").
Otherwise, it too often it feels like the band is merely going through the motions, and the album's trebly mix doesn't help matters. Still, there's also something like closer "Our Colors," a late bright spot: It's a tender, layered acoustic ballad in the spirit of Underoath's "Some Will Seek Forgiveness, Others Escape," the sort of thing the band have tried before ("Tumbling," off 2009's From What We Believe), and wasn't nearly as successful with. "Our Colors," on the other hand, is done well and proves the band's proclivity for really nailing it when they seem to mean it.