Ever have a good idea that never really quite took off? An idea that didn’t even make it to the runway? An idea that maybe just blew up in the hangar? "Screamo" outfit Alesana’s debut “On Frail Wings of Vanity And Wax”, newly released by Fearless Records, is just that.
Hailing from Raleigh, NC, Alesana has received the accolade of many, scoring tours with the likes of Haste The Day, From Autumn to Ashes, and Greeley Estates. And deservingly so. Their musicianship is proficient to say the least. Unfortunately, this CD is also failsafe in the sense that the kids will gobble it up (read: UNORIGINAL). Consistent references to dying and hackneyed imagery about suicide run rampant, coupled with obtrusive, velociraptor dinosaur-like screams and a so-called growl with uncanny resemblance to Escape the Fate (that is bad). It just kind of seems like a smörgåsbord of what’s really cool to do, and it turns out as a mess.
The mythical Icarus theme is about the boy who escaped from an island via wings made out of feathers and wax; he got excited, flew really high and the sun melted the wax, so his wings fell apart, leading to his demise. Unfortunately, the theme is neither recurrent nor dominant. I thought the theme was sort of nifty, it would've been cool to see what some other bands would've created based upon that theme. The wings in the story aren’t blood-soaked either (see “Pathetic, Ordinary”). It just kind of seemed like the Icarus theme was a dead end, the way Alesana handled it.
The melodic vocals are decent, and the riffs are structured well. Production is clean. Singer Dennis Lee has a good (high) range and interesting voice that meanders all over. The songs then proceed to be wrecked by unnecessary, unoriginal, derivative screams placed seemingly for the sake of having screaming. This is my main complaint with what is an otherwise okay album. When the pace is brought down, the songs are actually enjoyable, or at least when there is no screaming. I don’t hate this band, nor do I hate screamo music (quite the contrary). I’m just disappointed by the fact that this album completely falls on its face, and how much image is valued (in general, to be honest).
Alesana has potential, they really do. Let’s hope it really carries through on future efforts; this CD radiates “cliché”. Perhaps I’ll see them at Warped this year, and I’ll change my mind for some weird reason. Until then, I’ll keep spinning “Frail Words Collapse” if I want aggressive music.