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Heart Set Self Destruct - "Monster" (CD/EP)

Heart Set Self Destruct - "Monster" CD/EP cover image

"Monster" track listing:

1. Monster (3:28)
2. Rain (4:08)
3. Collapse (4:09)
4. Divide (3:58)
5. Useless (4:00)

Reviewed by on June 12, 2011

"This is banal, boring, and rote hard rock straight off the radio-rock-hopeful conveyor belt."

I normally try to rep the Chicago metal scene as much as I can – I like to think we’ve got a vibrant metal community and I like to support the local cause. But with Heart Set Self Destruct’s “Monster” EP, I just can’t do it. This is banal, boring, and rote hard rock straight off the radio-rock-hopeful conveyor belt.

Heart Set Self Destruct certainly is an underground band gaining some momentum, so I was hopeful when I unzipped the digital file. They’ve played all the venues for optimistic bands here in Chicago and got out on the Vans Warped Tour in 2008. But once I discovered Heart Set Self Destruct sounds like a Nickelback cover band spreading their wings with original material, this momentum was not a surprise, as apparently people like this stuff. But the music itself doesn’t support any of the hype.

The vocals and melody on the title track are ripped straight from Chad Kroeger’s notebook. I mean directly ripped. If I sent you that song without a band name, you would bet a few thousand dollars that it was Nickelback. The problem, of course, is that Nickelback is not a band to emulate if musical quality is your goal. (But if money is your goal, then sure.)

The “Monster” EP goes on like this for five full songs. Operating room clean production with any imperfections smoothed out, basic chord progressions and melodies, faux-emotional vocals, simplistic and repetitive song structures, lyrics about being bad at relationships and family and life. I get the feeling that high school was a huge bummer for these guys. Some pieces of Alter Bridge, Creed, and 3 Doors Down all sneak here and there, showcasing Heart Set Self Destruct’s musical range. It all goes down much too easily, like a water-and-red-bull when you really wanted vodka.

I spent an hour searching for any bright spots, and all I could find is the opening riff and verse on “Collapse” – a little meaty and a little foreboding, it gave just the slightest sliver of hope. But then the most sugar-coated and generic chorus comes along (I swear I’ve heard it before…), and we’re back to square one; anything they had going early in the song is completely trashed.

I could rant on and on for days about Heart Set Self Destruct, but a college professor once told me that if I can’t be brilliant and brief, please (for the love of god) be brief. So I’ll end this thing by repeating that advice for Heart Set Self Destruct – please keep any future releases to EPs (or even just singles!), because this certainly isn’t brilliant.

Highs: The beginning of “Collapse” isn’t awful, as the riff is a pretty decent meaty grove.

Lows: The vocals are the worst of a bad bunch.

Bottom line: Formulaic radio rock that is even worse than what is actually on the radio.

Rated 1 out of 5 skulls
1 out of 5 skulls

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)