ALBUM REVIEW – “Clockworks” by InDirections

The times they are a changin’. Heavyweights within the metalcore scene are finally starting to catch on to just how stale the genre has gotten, and are diversifying their sound accordingly. Of Mice & Men are moving toward nu metal; Motionless in White drawing extensively from industrial; hell, Bring Me the Horizon almost transcended it completely on their last record.  The consequence is that less popular bands are having to do something truly special to stand out, because there are just so many groups plying their trade in metalcore right now. Issues and While She Sleeps managed to craft innovative debuts in the last few years, but aside from a select few, the underground scene remains shockingly conservative.

This then, is the problem with the new album from InDirections. Every cliché in the book is rolled out – relentless breakdowns; djenty guitar riffs; screamed verse/sung chorus song structures; glitchy vocal effects; synthesized orchestral backing tracks; lyrics that strike a balance between defiance and introspection. Meanwhile, not a single move is made to distinguish them from the million other bands doing the exact same thing. Riffs sound like they’ve been culled from Slipknot b-sides; clean vocals consistently strive for ‘anthemic’, often falling flat; the bass guitarist is almost unfailing inaudible. Penultimate track ‘Illumination’ features an utterly unconvincing declaration of the well-worn phrase ‘”we are the new generation” – there’s nothing new about this band whatsoever.

For the most part, there’s very little bad about this album, it’s just painfully average and conventional. The rhythm guitar work is decent if not spectacular; the orchestral parts interesting if not at all unique. Vocalist Landis Daniels is perfectly competent, but he frequently fails to provide a hook when one is so desperately needed. Naming the album Clockworks may just be a stroke of genius, because the whole thing runs exactly how you’d expect it to, and indeed like clockwork. A couple of standouts aside- ‘Throne’ manages to sustain its near five-minute runtime impressively well, and the eerie intro to the title track is a good starting point for the record – it does feel like the same song is playing repeatedly, and it’s not a particularly great song either.

There is the occasional moment of utter lunacy – the “listen up nigga” on ‘Defiance’ is one of the funniest things you’ll hear all year. But for the most part Clockworks is just song after song of tired clichés done in an utterly unexciting way by a band with performance chops but no clear gift in songwriting. Even five years ago, this record may have sounded somewhat exciting – in 2014, it just sounds hackneyed. For every revolutionary release, there are a hundred others that follow the status quo, and that’s exactly what InDirections have done here.

Rating: 3/10 

[Michael Bird]




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