The members of hardcore band, See the Rise, have faced more heartbreak in their early years than most bands will suffer in their entire careers. This heartbreak was the fuel that inspired their E.P. The Theft. The seven song introduction, based on John 10:10, showed a fair deal of potential, but ultimately fell short in portraying what the band was truly capable of. However, the band's debut full length, Exposures, takes a massive leap forward, packing tightly all the potential promised before, and releasing it in a hurricane of hardcore goodness.
The album begins with a savagely honest spoken word track that slowly intensifies until the title track, "Exposures," fires the bullet that sends the album running. It's evident from the start that the entire band has greatly improved, wiping away any doubts previously held. The momentum continues with "Treasure," an instant highlight that blends rock and hardcore with near flawless execution. Josh Myers' screams are strong and commanding in the verses while Brian Elliott's cleans soar through the chorus without ever feeling thrown in for melody's sake. Other highlights include "Second Chance," "Self Portrait," (which includes a vocally distorted breakdown that is sure to get the listener moving) "Spotlights," and the subdued finisher, "With You."
Thematically the album doesn't shy away from the dark. It's an honest exploration of identity and salvation amidst a world ripe in its fallen ways. The title track warns of the dangers of self-deception, "You're so broken and you think you have a clue, can't you just see life the way that I do? The most dangerous thing about a liar (liar) is when they think what they're saying is true." "Self Portrait" wrestles with doubt and self-worth, "I wear my heart on my sleeve, it's so hard to believe that my picture's worth... Is worth a thousand words. In you, I made the right choice but how can I be the voice when I can't see myself the way that you do?" "Proverbs 7," undoubtedly inspired by the band's heartbreak, details the life and snares of the strange woman, "Seduced into a path of destruction, your innocence at the cost of seduction, she destroys your heart until your vows are broken," However, rather than ending grimly, the song encourages with the command, "Keep these words, keep these commands, guard your heart or you will die.... And in a moment, you'll walk away, a lifetime is promised in a new day."
Musically the album tends to stick within a single formula: screamed/growled verse, a clean chorus, and a breakdown in the bridge before returning to the chorus. Although this formula is executed well, it often prevents songs from standing out and becoming their own. This is thankfully remedied by the emotional ballad, "With You," that brings the album to a close. Lead entirely by clean vocals until the final quarter, the song finishes the album with the final act of surrender, "I know I've failed before, but I'm not running anymore, because with you I'm so much more than what I was."
See the Rise have crafted an exceptionally strong debut with Exposures. While it doesn't aim to reinvent the genre, the raw lyrics, coupled with mature musicianship and a willingness to explore the questions and doubts we often hold, sets up Exposures as one of the strongest heavy releases of the year.
- Review date: 11/23/15, written by Lucas Munachen of Jesusfreakhideout.com