Release DetailsLABEL Life Sentence
RELEASED ON 6/1/2004
The Art of Being We
posted on 10/2004 By:
Although it was originally released in Europe in 2002, PN’s The Art of Being ‘We’ didn’t hit the US until this year. This is the fourth album from the Belgian four piece, but the first I’ve heard. When this came in for review I signed up to review it not knowing a thing about the band, except that someone once told me these guys sound a little like the Deftones. They don’t; well at least not for long. The first track, “Life is Killing Expectations” does actually start out sounding quite a bit like the Deftones. The riff is similar to their work, and the vocals have the same occasional high pitched scream paired with the more typical, swaying, halcyon dripping vocal melody. So far, not too bad. The next track makes it clear that I’d gotten faulty information about what these guys are all about. PN are firmly rooted in hardcore and metalcore. After perusing their website I saw one of the members refer to their sound as “emotional newschool hardcore.” Well, I didn’t like the sound of that language one bit. Unfortunately, the description is accurate, at least for much of the album. But there are brighter moments on the album too, or actually darker moments. But dark is good, right?
PN claim that the title of the album refers to the need to form a counterculture to remain individuals "against a world that sees economy and profits as a main goal.” How very hardcore. As I was listening to The Art of Being ‘We’ it was the “we” that caught my attention. We, as in plural. Which seemed relevant, because these songs are almost like the band going in two different directions. About half the album is kind of an emo sounding metalcore crossed with alternative. The other half actually has some pretty cool metalcore material. There are some decently heavy riffs and matching screaming, and quality songwriting. The songs mostly fit into one or the other of these descriptions, but some actually do both. On one hand, maybe this approach is a unique signature for the band, but the disparity didn’t work for me, and it would seem that there is a limited US audience who will enjoy both styles. The lighter stuff just doesn’t come off well, even for lighter stuff. Honestly, it sounds a bit amateurish, and I know that’s not the case with these guys. It just reminded me of stuff you’d hear a locally successful alternative band do at any bar surrounding any college campus. The songwriting is inconsistent and the vocals aren’t strong enough to pull off some of the melodies. Songs like “The Fingerless Glove”, “Blameyouthemus”, and the tough-as-nails titled “Being In Love With Life” are all examples of this. It sounds like the music accompanying some MTV reality show—some life affirming examples of what people can learn about themselves and other people from wearing fat suits or trading places with their parents. ‘Cause we’re all together on our paths to self-actualization —no man is an island, and all.
What is somewhat perplexing is that the other half of the album has some very solid, and reasonably heavy moments. Tracks like “Big Salute to a Last Commitment”, “Where Naivety Meets Reality, Stars Are Born”, and “A Storm Called Life” are all well developed and sport crunching riffs and some first class screaming. The lighter stuff in and/or between these songs makes the band more unique than most of their peers, but these guys are clearly better at a heavier style, and it’s hard not to think the loss in distinctiveness wouldn’t be worth the more consistent style and quality that could be achieved by moving in a heavier direction. On the other hand, the band has been plugging away for the last 12 years, so it seems they are doing something right. I guess like the album title says, they prefer to stick to who they are and do their own thing. And I gotta respect that. In the end though, despite many good moments on the album, The Art of Being ‘We’ left me lukewarm.
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