In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a fan of the "screamo" genre of music - taking an emo band and, ahem, complementing the vocals with death-metal type screaming. That being said, I can appreciate the talent and musicianship that goes into producing one of these albums. That being said, I have a seriously hard time appreciating Far From the Lies, the latest from Greeley Estates.
Abrasive Vocals Hurt The Album
Primarily, this is due to the screaming. Vocalist Ryan Zimmerman is allowed to scream entirely too much, and rather than sounding like a sincere singer pouring his heart out, he sounds more like a small monkey chained to the mic stand, being savagely beaten with a sock full of nickels.
The opening track, "The End Of All We Know", starts out very promising, with some booming hardcore sounds. About 16 seconds in, the screaming starts. That's when the whole album begins to go horribly, horribly wrong. Track after track of potentially good music is buried by the harsh vocals.
Some Redeeming Qualities
There are some good tracks on the album. "Too Much CSI" is a bit of decent melodic hardcore, and "Remember" starts out with acoustic guitar and goes into what is probably the best song on the album, with a simple punk sound. Both of these songs benefit greatly by keeping the screaming to a minimum; the songs are actually sung, and the small amounts of screaming to do not detract from the songs too much.
"Secret" is another great song - a melodic, soft, primarily acoustic track with absolutely no screaming. This is where Greeley Estates excels. Their harder tracks are decent, if a little stereotypical, but their softer, more melodic tunes are excellent. I simply can't handle the screeching, especially right off. The album would probably even be much better if the songs were in a different order, so you weren't hit with that abrasive sound right at the beginning.
Lyrically, the songs are solid and positive. "Remember" is a lyrical high point; it's about the band themselves ("Remember when we started this and what it meant to us") and attempting not to take their success for granted.
Seriously, if you can get past Zimmerman's screeching, or if you don't mind being alienated by the sound of a band's vocals, you'll enjoy this. Personally, it's the musical equivalent of hitting your knuckles on the cheese grater while working in the kitchen; it won't wreck your day, but it stops you dead in your tracks and makes it harder to enjoy the meal you're preparing.