In an attempt to dismiss the haunting memories that followed their last album, XXI released Inside Out to pave a fresh path for a newer, cleaner sound to their hardcore metal genre. After the death of original vocalist Eric Gentry, the remaining members
of A Feast for Kings regrouped to create XXI, named in tribute to Gentry’s age when he passed. XXI delivers a solid album filled with heartfelt lyrics in tones of progressive screamo music, but Inside Out doesn’t astound as much as it could, playing things a bit safe within the metal core sub-genre.
As the dust around them settles, XXI emerges as a progressive metal band, challenging the gritty textures that come along with other hardcore bands. XXI carry cleaner vocals
and sleek rock melodies, with the right amount of screamo added in. Tracks like “Alive” and “Misfit” are upbeat, but the pain resonates in new lead vocalist Carson Butcher’s hard-hitting notes.
Inside Out starts off with two strong tracks that have the biggest impact on the album – “Say It Again” and “Hanging by a Thread.” With hard-hitting melodies, the pair of tracks
provides enough emotion to carry the rest of the ever-melding albums. While most of tracks are consistent and flow together, there are moments where it feels like you are listening to one continuous 30-minute song. As muddied as it got at times, the album does have surprisingly strong end in “Way You Love Me,” with layered vocals over a slower rock melody to bring things to a close.
The last tracks seem to blend together for a continuous flow of clean cut vocals with the highs and lows of screamo, which at times is pleasant but leaves you craving for a bit more. It’s easy to lose yourself in the tracks, which each individual listener can choose to be a good thing or bad. Inside Out has the makings for a great rock album but there is definitely more of a focus on getting lyrics over perfecting the unique sound to their music.
Release Date: September 18th, 2015
Run Time: ~37 min.
Songs to check out: “Say it Again,” “Alive”
1) Say It Again
2) Hanging by a Thread
3) Counting Me Out
4) Wasn’t Enough
5) All I Want
7) Cut Me Open
9) Without You
10) Way You Love Me
Written by Zarrin Alam.