Like the metamorphosis of a butterfly breaking out of its cocoon, And Then There Were None has emerged
from the dark obscurity of New England's metal-core scene to stretch colorful wings broadly and proudly with the glamour of
their freshly adapted style. The band has completely abandoned screams in favor of clean vocal harmony and pop melody
hooks while replacing hardcore breakdowns with four on the floor dance beats and the 80s' charm of glittery synthesizer.
Of this dramatic transformation a quote offered by frontman Matt Rhoades says, "Eventually I ran out of ideas for writing
metal music, and began to write what came more naturally. To me, dance music is positive, and still incredibly emotionally
based. There are no rules or norms and this allowed me more creative freedom in the writing process. I finally feel as
though ATTWN has found its own unique sound." Having fortunately accrued the solid support of Tooth & Nail Records,
the debut of Who Speaks for Planet Earth is immediately worthy of attention.
In the opening moments of the record, the intro's brief 40 seconds of static chaos is soon as obsolete as the band's
former identity when the splendor of "John Orr The Arsonist" dramatically bursts into play with an elegance that flows throughout the
album's 39 minute duration. The music is essentially a refined elemental fusion of rock, dance, electronica, and pop
genres with passionate melody and smart harmony sung with quality vocals that encourage repeated listens in any setting and
make each track like sweet candy to the ears. The techno beats are fun and the catchiness of each tune covers the monotony of
the kick drum.
Although many of the lyrics are dominantly "she" focused, it's wonderful just for a band with this style to promote morally
clean messages even if they're not necessarily presenting the gospel. For example, the single "Reinventing Robert Cohn" seems
to describe a guy struggling with the sexual temptation of a girl in the lines, "she loves temptation but temptation has no
place in me… and she's the one I see who screams go on go on / she doesn't know who I am / I really want to tell her that this
can't go on tonight." The words in the song "John Orr The Arsonist" ("Taking chances or just breathing in vain / the four lives lost
at cost were twenty times less worth your name / this is a heart attack and you want your life back… but your selfish pride
will take the lives of others you could save"), seem to urge Christians to shine the light of Christ without shame or
fear of being unpopular. The prayerful second verse of "Insozzz," "fill my lungs with everything but apathy / let me breathe
again," resonates memorably as the song fades slowly to finish out the album with class.
Basically, Who Speaks for Planet Earth is a record that capitalizes on its extremely trendy nature,
and especially considering the success rate of Tooth & Nail Records, And Then There Were None is likely to quickly become
one of the break out artists of the year. In the future, they may find it tough to create a follow up to such a positive
release but, until then, these 11 songs comprise a strikingly entertaining debut.
- Review date: 2/22/09, written by Tim Harro of Jesusfreakhideout.com
It seems that there's always something new coming from the Tooth & Nail camp.
It doesn't look like 2009 will be different, as we now have newbies And Then There Were None with their
debut label release Who Speaks For Planet Earth. Now, for a band who used to be metalcore by genre,
ATTWN are able to pull off the sound change with little flaw, unlike one would expect when changing style so dramatically.
But aside from the applaudable transition from metal to dancey emo, ATTWN doesn't seem to create too great of an album in this
field. The music is fairly good, but really, when it comes down to it, the fact that most every song has the typical
thump-thump-thump dance beat just gets slightly boring. Granted, it's not a continual thing throughout the entirety of
every song, but the main beat for the songs is either that or a bass-snare-bass-snare sort of repetition. In addition, the
vocals aren't too pleasing. Vocalist Matt Rhoades (and the background vocalists as well) may have been better off sticking
to the metal sound. Rhoades sounds like he's trying to pull off the Secret & Whisper type vocals - trying to get them up
really high - but can't quite attain what he's aiming for. Admittedly, though, it's not a terrible album.
There are lots of times where the vocals sound just fine, and the synth is awesome through a great portion of the songs. And there's even a cover of Richard Marx's "Right Here Waiting," which is done quite nicely, I have to say. So it's not a total loss. But unless you're utterly addicted to dance beats and you just can't get enough, regardless of where they come from, it may not be something you would want to invest your money in.
- Scott Fryberger