First Guess

Brutally honest reviews and commentary on the latest music

Changing Sound Across Albums

The above was released yesterday, which will be on Unearth’s upcoming album Watchers of Rule (is it just me or does that sound goofy?) set for release on October 28th. Prior to listening to “The Swarm” I haven’t listened to anything from them in years and I was thinking: Wow, they sound exactly the same. Still good, though!

There’s this widespread idea that an artist should keep the sound that got them where they are. And if they change, the idea is that they’ll lose their entire fan-base. Reality paints an entirely different picture, doesn’t it? The ones who release the same material over and over are the ones who fall by the wayside. Who the hell talks about Shadows Fall or DragonForce anymore? Unearth is one of the few bands that remains brutally consistent, in that the sound is the same, but the quality makes it worth listening to every time. But the fact remains that they’re not as listened to compared to when they were first on the scene or compared to many other bands. And I wouldn’t put their level of talent or skill on the same level of In Flames. Bands that change their sound (for better or for worse) are the ones that remain listened to– bands like In Flames, Nightwish and Trivium.

I recently reviewed In Flames’ latest album, Siren Charms, and gave it a low score. Do I blame their change in sound? Of course not. In Flames’ lead vocalist, Anders Friden, was interviewed last month by Alternative Press and he talked a lot about how the sound of their albums are largely unplanned and composed by whatever they’re feeling when they’re writing it. “I wanna challenge our listeners…, but I don’t wanna do Whoracle or Jester Race part 2,” Friden said. I totally respect anybody that approaches their music in this way. As much as it sucks when an album is released that tries something new and fails, I’d rather it be that way than for the same album to be released over and over. Nightwish’s first album was this weirdo mix of heavily utilized acoustic guitars, electric guitars, a classically trained soprano singer and a backup singer who had no idea how to sing. Their next two albums changed things up by going for a power-metalish sound. They then went on to form their iconic symphonic sound and are now becoming increasingly more cinematic in their music. It’s not like they weren’t successful on their first album, so they could have easily gotten comfortable and never changed their sound. I highly doubt they’d be nearly as listened to if they decided to go down that route.

In Flames went through some changes themselves, especially when compared to their first couple of albums. In the interview, Friden said “With Whoracle, people complained that it wasn’t Jester Race. When we released Colony, people complained because it wasn’t Whoracle.” Isn’t that silly? You know what In Flames would be like if they listened to their fans? They’d be like Shadows Fall, releasing the same garbage over and over and their oldest material will always be the most listened to. Change or no change, people will always look at their old material as the “golden age.” So why do fans always want a band to stay the same when their new material will always be viewed as degraded compared to the old?

No truly great artist ever earned the title of “great” without experimenting and changing. Don’t take my word for it. Just look at history has presented to us.


One comment on “Changing Sound Across Albums

  1. Pingback: The shack was always open. You didn’t need to apologize | First Guess

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