Phoenix Mourning

When Excuses Become Antiques

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Some call it screamo; others call it post-hardcore, melodic hardcore, emotional metalcore, melodic metalcore, or nu-core. Screamo is perhaps the most popular, widely used term for the style, but whatever term one prefers, the screamo/post-hardcore/melodic hardcore scene became more and more saturated during the early 2000s. One screamo band after another emerged, including Phoenix Mourning. The Florida combo was formed in 2004, and by April 2006, Metal Blade had released its debut album, When Excuses Become Antiques. This by-the-book effort follows the familiar screamo recipe to the letter; tortured screaming vocals are contrasted with clean vocals, and elements of metalcore-style savagery are contrasted with clean melodies and swirling guitars. The clean vocals are pretty; the screaming vocals are anything but. Calling the screaming vocals metalcore-style vocals isn't to say that this album is actually metalcore -- that would be sledgehammer bands such as Hatebreed, Throwdown, Brick Bath, and NDE -- and it isn't emocore or emo, either, even though screamo bands often dress like emo bands. Borrowing some terminology from avant-garde jazz, one could say that discs like When Excuses Become Antiques favor an inside/outside aesthetic -- the inside being the conventional melodies, harmonies, and vocals, the outside being the extreme elements -- while metalcore is totally outside and emo is totally inside. Phoenix Mourning does a competent job pulling the inside and outside together on this CD, and some of the tunes are catchy enough. But unfortunately, the Floridians' material isn't terribly memorable -- competent, yes, but nothing mind-blowing and nothing that sets Phoenix Mourning apart from countless other bands that jumped on the screamo/post-hardcore bandwagon in the early 2000s. Neither the best nor the worst that screamo has to offer, When Excuses Become Antiques isn't a bad album, but is far from an essential contribution to the ultra-saturated screamo scene.

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