And We Are Bled of Color

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Stutterfly's Maverick debut, And We Are Bled of Color, reprises the high points of their 2002 independent release Broken in Pieces, and positions them in the growing dead zone between post-hardcore, alt-metal, emo, and its tired cousin screamo. On the raucous, screamy opener "Dead Eyes" the Canadian combo sounds like a hardened AFI. But the resultant "Where Angels Fall" is a 21st century power ballad complete with whispery vocal layers and a string section. It's very difficult to discern what Stutterfly's doing, besides sounding quite a bit like its peers. The lyrics are a mishmash of vague Christian references (the band has a background in alternative CCM) and the usual touchstones for emo and modern hardcore: souls, pain, death's embrace, numbness, silent screams, and eviscerated hearts. "Gun in Hand" and "Fire Whispers" play whining guitars off pianos, more yelling in the background; Chris Stickney sings convincingly in the latter's verses, but the song's muddled blend of preening strings and treated distortion is just such a put-on. There's no feeling here, even though the entirety of And We Are Bled of Color purports to be about feelings. The guitars change from touching clean channels to crashing volumes at all the right moments, and the I'm-on-fire screams of "Bury Me (The Scarlet Path)" predictably give way to plaintive high-end harmonies and the echoes of a piano. Fans of Deftones, the Used, and Story of the Year might find something to hang onto inside And We Are Bled of Color. But it's difficult not to see Stutterfly as a too-obvious part of a niche, and that lessens their music's effectiveness considerably, even for fans of the genre(s).

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