Dead by April

Incomparable

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Seemingly unperturbed by the "Swedish metal Backstreet Boys" label they were saddled with following their 2009 self-titled debut, Gothenburg quartet Dead by April's sophomore album, Incomparable, sticks to the unusual blend of screamcore and boy band harmonies which has split their homeland's rock audience right down the middle. Despite the presence of Rammstein producer Jacob Hellner on board, and a recent lineup reshuffling which saw guitarist Pontus Hjelm take a behind-the-scenes role, its 13 tracks offer very little variation on the formula which helped them to score a number two chart position with their first offering. Kickstarting its 13 tracks, "Dreaming" opens up with some twisted techno synths and squelchy basslines before its over-processed, nu-metal sound constantly flits between Zandro Santiago's melodic clean vocals and Jimmie Strimell's virtually demonic growls. Repeat this approach ad nauseum, and this is pretty much Incomparable in a nutshell. Occasionally, the band veer off into slightly more adventurous territory, as on the dramatic orchestral rock of "Crossroads," the slightly folksy verses of "Calling," and the frenetic, Pendulum-esque beats of "When You Wake Up." But the constant Enter Shikari-meets-Linkin Park production and over-earnest soft rock melodies make the likes of "Within My Heart," "Real & True," and "More Than Yesterday" difficult to distinguish from each other, while it's only on the frantic, disjointed percussion, crunching riffs, and distorted vocals of "Lost" that the band begin to produce anything which matches their emo image. Of course, having repeated the chart success of its predecessor, Dead by April are obviously doing something right, but it's hard to see who they appeal to. Strimell's tortured wailings are surely far too off-putting for anyone other than hardened metalcore fans, but when they're taken away, as on the '80s synth-led finale "Last Goodbye," you could be listening to a Savage Garden record. Nevertheless, Incomparable is one of the more curious records to emerge from the burgeoning Swedish rock scene, even if those outside it are likely to remain oblivious to its charms.

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