In 2008, MyChildren MyBride took hold of our attention and bombarded our keen ears with straightforward, breakdown-heavy metalcore. It was a good platform to begin upon, but most of their songs sounded the same. The majority of their notoriety as well erupted from their "show song" "Headshot." After several years of touring and building up a fan base, the Madison, Alabama quintet has finally moved on to their sophomore album. Taking their time was a wise decision though, and thoroughly understood, as there is always tremendous pressure on follow-up albums. This is the peak that they have to scale to achieve any future success. They started out well, but now Lost Boy has the expectations of the fans to deal with.
Slowly, the raging beat of "Terra Firma" creeps up to its full speed and volume. The guitars begin to chug in an odd, growling tone that is much the same as their previous album and the drums chime slowly at first, with a contrast of double kick spurts at blistering speeds. But the track strolls on, introducing MCMB's new endeavors in confident guitar chords and premium bass drops scattered throughout, ending in a slow and sinister breakdown.
"Hooligans" shoots out at a similar tempo to its predecessor, but throws caution to the wind with catastrophic gang vocals breaking out in chorus, "We are the lions!" And it becomes clear in just a few minutes that MCMB's liberal use of breakdowns has not halted to any degree. But to kick off the first real exploration into new territory, "King of the Hopeless" rips onto stage front and center. Robert Bloomfield and Daniel Alvarado have gotten much more creative with their guitaring, carrying them much like Darkest Hour - dark, melodic and energetic. Very different vocals open the track, followed by a fast, thrash beat and on and off guitars. The song is just dripping with honest passion and encouraging guitar chords, contrary to the title, especially in the wonderfully vocally driven breakdown. It's so brutal, but slaps a smile so hard onto your face you just want to throw down in hugs.
Matthew Hasting kicks up his vocal variety a notch this time around. There's a touch more emotion in his yelling screams as well as control between higher and lower or throaty and "umph" growls. "Crimson Grim" takes MCMB to another place they've never been, adding much more intricate riffs and beefing up their breakdowns to sound less dry and overlong. As in Unbreakable, half of their material was breakdowns that held very little personality. This time there's more than just a slow beat and a few low chugs.
Actually, with the opening of the title track, you start to realize that there are probably even more breakdowns than before, but they are placed behind more music rather than as empty interludes. The lead guitar spews out fancy songs of its own and Hasting's vocals blanket most of the music, but well camouflaged breakdowns play the backbone of the song whenever there isn't a sporty blast or thrash beat under chord choruses. They have discovered that adding vocals to a breakdown is an ever-effective method of hiding it from general attention.
Song after song though, you can expect at least one prominent breakdown in each track. The end of "Dark Passenger" is particularly gruesome. "Digital Rebirth" is the sugar rush of the album, never slowing down between its dark undertone intro, its toe-tapping anthem chorus or its sporadic blast beat verses. The energy in the vocals carries over into "Redeemer." but the drums morph into hardcore mode. Partnered with the upbeat melodies and gang vocals, it'll have you moving fast and grinning wide. "Nuclear+" is a vicious monster that drags you in with lightning fast beats and endless screaming, then devours you with a thunderous breakdown powered by Hasting's tempo chasing barks.
You're in for a real surprising treat from "Lungs Full of Water." It begins way off of MCMB's usual niche, coming a lot closer to something like As I Lay Dying. Streaming into their own style again for a little while, a crushing breakdown kicks in before the beat changes back to hardcore and gang vocals once again. At times, it sounds very reminiscent of Unbreakable's "Headshot," but then ends somewhat abruptly. But waiting just over a minute, a very sullen musical transition occurs, which opens up slightly, but remains for several minutes as a solemn conclusion to the album. Throughout, we hear several sound clips amongst the music starting with the shuffling of feet to a man speaking to someone, urging them "not to move." Further on, there is a haunting bustle of children's voices, lockers opening and closing, footsteps up a staircase, and finally - silence.
The Unbreakable sound is certainly still here, but very wisely improved upon. The band has recognized their flaws and fixed them just about as well as would be expected in a model sophomore album. Lost Boy is a prime example of healthy progression, trying new things but retaining the sound that grew their fan base in the first place. Their constant dry breakdowns tired me out in their first album, but instead of reducing them, they made them much more palatable and entertaining. Each member has clearly improved and experimented with their specific instruments, adding a lot of good little things into the mix with great big things. Releasing a sophomore album is risky business, but MyChildren MyBride's confident and high energy performance in Lost Boy has catapulted them safely over the mountain of expectations and well past the line of concern.
- Review date: 6/3/10, written by Wayne Reimer of Jesusfreakhideout.com