Album Review: Issues – Black Diamonds EP

There is only one reason why fans of the metalcore scene will be drawn to this EP, the band members. Issues is the new band featuring Ex-Woe Is Me clean and screaming vocalists Tyler Carter and Michael Bohn, who get to exercise different musical aspects on this EP. Of course I lied and the other reason people will be drawn to this EP is to obviously hear what Tyler and Michael have come up with and to see if they can produce anything to rival their old band.

The EP starts off with ‘Black Diamonds’ which can be called a hip-hop/dubstep mashup which at first throws you off a little bit and is not something you’d expect on a heavy sounding EP.

As Michael screams “wrath to the industry” on ‘King Of Amarillo,’ it kicks off the heavy side to the EP, with thick heavy guitar riffs mixed with screams it’s a good sounding song. Tyler’s sweet sounding vocals then come in and the song is taken to another level as his vocals blend into the melodic guitar. With some added DJ scratches, it adds another element to the band’s sound and it surprisingly fits in the song quite well.

What comes next is a song that would easily fit perfectly onto daytime radio and would be mistaken to be a new song by a big named pop band act. ‘The Worst Of Them’ is pretty much an all Tyler affair as he sings his way through an emotional-led lyrical vibe. His vocals are sweet sounding and his pop-style vocals really shine through on this song. Musically it’s a simple rhythm guitar sounding song with the addition of some breakdowns near the end. Michael’s added screams come in near the end and they both take turns to finish the song off.

The domestic abuse themed song ‘Princeton Ave,’ picks back up to the heavy side of the band as Michael’s vocals dominate the majority of this song. With plenty of breakdowns and catchy lead guitar parts mixed with the dance vibe synths in the background, it’s a good sounding song. 

A song for me that really makes the EP and showcases what the band has to offer is on ‘Love, Sex, Riot’. Starting off with some catchy heavy guitar riffs it leads into some DJ scratching, which then lets the rap style screams fly. As the off putting vocoded vocals come in it leads into a short vocal guest appearance, Tyler finally comes back in with his impressive, yet very hip hop sounding, vocals.

The last song on the EP (‘Her Monologue’) for me is not a strong song as it sounds like two songs have been forced together. The first half leans on the bands hip hop-heavy sound which lets Tyler stretch his vocals with some heavy laden guitar riffs in the background, with an added scattering of screams here and there. As a small bit of silence runs for a couple of seconds, Tyler comes in showing off his rapping skills, a female guest vocalist then comes in with some impressive MC’ing. As Tyler responds and exercises his vocal skills, it’s an odd thing to hear at the end of a heavy sounding song. The band could have easily split the song in two and had an extra track as it wouldn’t have been a problem for listeners. 

Overall this is an EP that will be liked by Woe Is Me and metalcore fans and who knows, it might be picked up by people outside of the scene as well. The songs are catchy and memorable enough for fans to sing along to and really enjoy in a live setting as well. Tyler Carter is of course impressive and has a strong hip hop/pop sounding voice, that could easily lead him to have a successful pop career. A definite EP for any metalcore fans that want to hear something heavy with a little bit of a hip hop vibe thrown in for good measure.

3/5

‘Black Diamonds’ by Issues is out now on Velocity/Rise Records.

Issues links: Official Website|Facebook|Twitter

Words by Aaron Wilson (@soundslikeajw)

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