Released October 21, 2016
Relative newcomers Sixty Miles Ahead offer up their second full length Insanity, courtesy of Eclipse Records. Two things are immediately evident after a few measures of opener “Lost In My Mind:” The biggest, most evident musical influence here is post-grunge, late 90’s/early 2000’s Nu-Metal-influenced Hard Rock. Secondly, the producer and/or engineer do not grasp what is important in recording drums, which might seem a minor detail, but the mix of the drums, and their tone, is sufficiently poor to actually affect the listenability of the songs.
Whatever else this band does moving forward, a new studio and sound engineer are top priority.
As for the songs… well, listen to enough music for enough years, and it may be all but impossible to hear a new tune and not automatically connect it to its influences. And that is not, in and of itself, a bad thing.
It is entirely reasonable to argue that there is minimal room for innovation within hard rock and heavy metal any more. Rather, it may be necessary for new artists to attempt fresh variations on existing themes and to combine different, existing aesthetics into new formulae.
But failing true innovation, any revisitation will require precision in execution and authentic delivery. While it is clear the band is authentic and dedicated to the art they are expressing, the execution is lacking. And, in viewing the album cover itself, the Godsmack influence proves more than circumstantial.
The opener is decent, and manages to present a fairly solid composition that plays to the strength of the guitarist and singer both. It is an exception, however, rather than the rule.
By “Lost In My Mind,” yet another song that (Satan help me), makes me think of a Godsmack cover band, the limitations of the singer are very apparent, as is the raw predictability of the song structure. By “Every Time I Try,” I’m uncertain if the drum sound is actually making the drums themselves sound off-time or if the drummer should also be in the priority list.
And I truly appreciate that the vocals are not processed, a pop-music tendency that has begun to surface more and more often in metal. Nonetheless, the singing for this track is not working.
Occasionally off-key singing is acceptable in rock — one could argue it’s a standard. But off-key and poor tone/phrasing becomes a problem for a song that is structured to showcase the vocal melody.
The middle of the album, particularly tracks “Let Go,” “Dead Space,” and “Neverending Fight” are the lowest points, unfortunately.
It’s very likely that, given this band is from Italy, English is not their first language. And I applaud anyone with the bravery to write in a non-native language (as so few Americans can put together a decent sentence in English themselves). Which, if a band is singing about mutilating chickens, goat worship, or drinking beer, probably will be negligible in terms of impact on the listener.
I don’t expect fucking Yeats and Shelley for lyrics in most metal songs.
I listen to enough death and black metal that lyrics are often a bonus when they are anything more than random growled and snarled verbs and non sequitur adjectives.
But if you’re constructing commentary on the human experience, such as Sixty Miles Ahead are attempting, it’s important to add to the conversation, amuse, and entertain.
But this particular brand of angst was tedious when I was 19 and had to see it firsthand and better-executed. Now it feels (at best) like an ironic joke, and I don’t honestly believe that was the intention.
My ears perked up a little bit with some of the riffs and leads for “Absence of Light,” as the guitarists seems to have been able to really drive the song.
The guitar has the twin-lead, melodic Metalcore style that least drives the song away the ‘1999 limbo’ this entire album largely inhabits.
By the final track, I’m just glad it’s almost over. There are some decent songs here, and the guitarist has talent. But the album–from the vocal delivery, the recording values, the lyrics, and ultimately the songs themselves–feels redundant in terms of what it contributes to the great hard rock/heavy metal discourse.
For those folks who hold the hard rock of the late 90s in high regard; particularly fans of Creed, Godsmack, and *shudder* Nickelback, this will likely be an enjoyable album.
Any Metal fan who does not subsist daily on KUPD and does not have a predilection for wearing backwards baseball caps and/or is lacking thorn-band tattoos is advised to look elsewhere for new music.