Armor For Sleep
What To Do When You Are Dead
posted on 2/2005 By:
You know that feeling you get when you check something out and immediately realize that it’s not for you? Not only because you don’t like it, but because it’s not even meant for you to like? When I encounter stuff that I consider a boil on the ass of entertainment—like the Lifetime Channel, American Idol, Vin Diesel movies, NASCAR, and any band with five singers, I know both that I think it is insufferably lame and that it’s not meant for me to enjoy anyway. It's an entertainment wrong turn that you quickly realize and mentally note so you don’t make the same mistake twice. That brings me to Armor For Sleep, a band that does a competent job at playing a genre of music that is not for me.
What To Do When You Are Dead is the second album from this New Jersey emo pop punk band. It’s a concept album centered on, get this, a lovelorn protagonist (no, really) who commits suicide during the first song, then wanders around the afterlife—still miserable of course. His last thoughts are summed up by lyrics like “I didn’t care that you left and abandoned me, what hurts more is that I would still die for you”. The music ranges from muted to raucous, but still entirely MTV-safe pop punk, covered with sugary sweet vocals and melodies. When bands like The Smiths contrasted tales of misery with jangly upbeat pop music, it felt like irony. This feels like a more conscious equation of youthful angst + pop sensibilities = long lines at the record store counters, as this seems a sure thing for insecure 15 year olds who are sad and confused enough to question the meaning of it all, but not so far gone they can’t appreciate a nice sing along chorus. In short, this is band is probably not meant for you, the loyal MetalReview reader, but it might be meant for your little sister, who loves Atreyu’s fashion, but wishes they wouldn’t do all that annoying screaming. Like retired reviewer Chris Sessions once said about this type of music, “this is hardcore for Hillary Duff fans”. But here’s the rub: these guys actually play this stuff pretty well. They avoid the usual three chords and a smile thing, preferring a more dynamic and layered approach, resulting in more developed songs. They have a good sense of melody and most of the material will be damn infectious to the band’s audience. A concept album is tough to pull off, and the story is a little too up front and obvious in places, but overall the band has done a decent job presenting the material.
This style of music doesn’t usually get a warm reception from the reviewers or the readers around here, but if you like this kind of stuff then Armor For Sleep seems like a no brainer. It’s bad music played well. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a palate cleansing appointment with some Morbid Angel.
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