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Evergreen Terrace - "Almost Home" (CD)

Evergreen Terrace - "Almost Home" CD cover image

"Almost Home" track listing:

1. Enemy Sex
2. Almost Home (III)
3. God Rocky is This Your Face?
4. We're Always Losing Blood
5. Sending Signals
6. Mario Speedwagon
7. Failure to Operate
8. Hopelessly Hopeless
9. The Letdown
10. I'm a Bulletproof Tiger
11. Not Good Enough

Reviewed by on September 27, 2009

"Evergreen Terrace is at their best on 'Almost Home' when they combine all of their passions into a big messy mix in equal parts."

Evergreeen Terrace is firmly ensconced in popular culture. The name itself is a direct reference to the street on which the (cartoon) Simpsons family lives. And the band’s very first album title “Losing All Hope is Freedom” is a reference to Chuck Palahniuk’s “Fight Club.” While the title of their fifth full-length, “Almost Home,” calls their heavy touring schedule into question rather than a straight pop culture reference, the music still borrows heavily from the cool kids.

The first mark against the band is the genre moniker melodic hardcore, which may as well be the modern metal cliché of the day. Using the standard good cop-bad cop vocals and song structures based on hardcore, punk, and modern rock, it seems as though “Almost Home” is headed for repetitive-land before it even gets going. But then the intro to “Enemy Sex” kicks in and all is forgiven. A riff straight from the Deftones drones out of the speakers and eventually kicks into high gear. The guitars chug away and Andrew Carey belts out his road-grade growl. The chorus, combining Carey’s shriek and Craig Chaney’s smooth croon, is infectious as it soars over Kyle Mims’ incessant drumming. A shiny guitar lead takes the song to the final breakdown, still carrying that drilling Deftones-style riff through to the end.

As the record reaches the middle section the band begins to feature the pop-punk side more, which isn’t necessarily good. “We’re Always Losing Blood” is an extreme metal ballad that doesn’t punch with any force, the killer solo and breakdown in “Sending Signals” can’t save the song from saccharine city, and “Mario Speedwagon” finds even Carey’s bellow getting harmonic. But the good points on “Almost Home” outnumber the bad. To wit, the shifts between breakdown and fun chorus in the title track is catchy, and Mims’ drums drive the breakdown-fest of “God Rocky, Is This Your Face?”

Evergreen Terrace is at their best on “Almost Home” when they combine all of their passions into a big messy mix in equal parts. Pop culture references, brutal hardcore, and glossy pop-punk require an interesting and durable palate for sure. The album as a whole includes obvious references to “Family Guy,” the band R.E.O. Speedwagon, video game Super Mario Bros. and HBO series “Eastbound and Down,” and those are just the easy ones. The recurring dissonance and rough-around-the-edges production is at odds with the intermittent Coldplay-esque guitar leads. But there are enough rock song hooks and muscular riffs to make the album ultimately appealing, while keeping the references clever instead of tired.

Final song “Not Good Enough” is an interesting closer, as it (likely intentionally) wraps the entire album in a neat package. The shiny guitar melody returns for good, Chaney’s smooth delivery slowly takes territory from Carey’s V-twin growl, and the breakdown will crush your face. The repeated lyrics “Not Good / Not Good Enough” during the bridge and the final chorus’ exhortations to strive for greatness despite the naysayers is oddly fitting. Yet as it is easy to enjoy “Almost Home,” it eventually becomes clear that the final refrain couldn’t be further from the truth.

Highs: The title track and “Enemy Sex” are both melodically strong and brutally heavy.

Lows: Often the music drifts too far into pop-punk and suffers for it.

Bottom line: An appealing mix of mosh-ready hardcore and polished sing-along’s.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)