By now you have no doubt heard of Issues, or about Issues, one of the more divisive bands to come out recently. By their own admission, they are combining top 40 chart pop and r&b with metalcore in the same way that nu metal combined rap and metal, which leaves you with something akin to Justin Timberlake doing clean vocals in Parkway Drive and for the most part it works and it works incredibly well.
After forming out of the ashes of Woe, is me in 2012, Issues released a 6 track e.p later that year called Black Diamonds which demonstrated what they were all about. They followed that up with a cover of Justin Beiber's 'Boyfriend' for the Punk Goes Pop vol.5 compilation, then last year they released the stand alone single 'Hooligans' building buzz as they went along, leading to their debut album becoming one of the most anticipated rock & metal releases of the year.
There are many things to like about Issues, they have heavy bounding riffs, that chug along nicely, breakdowns, they have harsh vocalist Michael Bohn, who does some considerable heavy lifting on this album, they have a dj, who layers the tracks with scratches and hip hop samples throughout, then they have what will be considered by some as their secret weapon and I'm sure by may as their biggest hindrance and that is clean vocalist Tyler Carter, who has a voice as smooth as silk and handles the r&b flavour and gives Issues their pop sensibilities. There is no denying that Tyler has a great voice and is an amazing vocalist in his own right, and his adds something unique to the mix that helps Issues to stand out from the back, but its also clear that after a while and the more and more you listen to Issues that there is a real danger of his voice grating on some people, but I think that will come from the individual listener and their prefered tastes.
As an album, Issues pops from the speakers and hits you straight away, with the scratchy, creeping chiming intro to 'Sad Ghost' luring the listener in before dropping the hammer, its during the songs chorus that you really get the first taste of the titanic sized hooks that this things possesses. 'Life of a Nine' adds an almost rap pattern into the vocals, which helps to really drive the song forward and compliments perfectly with the more harsh vocals as well. 'The Langdon House' is a song based on American Horror Story and the so called Murder House featured in the shows first season, its another stand out that shows the band knows their way around a concept and adds a layer of storytelling as well.
A lot has been made about the bands lack of heaviness, but that is also showcased in the likes of 'Stingray Affliction' and 'The Settlemant' which show that when Issues need to, they can turn up the insenity, whilst also giving you the soothing pop melodies as well, in fact they may be the best band to combine heavy metalcore breakdowns and riffs with pure pop melody this side of A Day to Remember.
A lot will be made of both Issues the band, as well as Issues the album, some will love it and hail it as the next big thing, while iniveitably others will malign it, but credit where it is due, Issues are a band that doesn't take themselves to seriously and that has the balls to attempt to do something different in a scene that has grown stagnant and regardless of whether you like them or not that is something that should be applauded as far too many bands nowadays are happy just to go with the flow in order to be accepted.
Issues have crafted the first great summer album, full of brilliant sun drenched pop hooks and glorious mosh pit igniting riffs, this is an album that will have you nodding your head as well as stomping your feet, and I for one am definitley invested and ready to see where they go with this, whatever you do though, just don't call them nu metal.