Michigan electronicore sextet I See Stars has been around since 2006. They released one EP (Green Light Go!) in 2007 and also put out several demos before being signed to Sumerian Records in 2008. Shortly thereafter, they recorded their debut album 3-D and released it in 2009. Critical reaction to the album was generally positive, and it was a good start for the Michigan natives. In 2011, they released their second album The End of the World Party, which again was met with good reviews. In 2012, they quickly released what was their most successful release to date “Digital Renegade. So after three successful albums in the span of three years, what do they do? Hop right back in the studio and work on their fourth release. With the legendary Joey Sturgis producing, they were ready to show that the best was yet to come. They proved that without a shadow of a doubt with the new album New Demons. New Demons is one of the best releases of 2013, and has a legitimate claim to album of the year. With an all around evolved sound, I See Stars is ready to knock everyone ten thousand feet in the air and on their ass.
Vocally, this is as good as it gets. Zack has a bigger role this time around, and he takes advantage of this. Showing some of the best unclean vocals I’ve heard in a long time, they are crisp and piercing. Uncleans are very easy to mess up, but Zack takes advantage of a range from lows to highs and everything in between and does it flawlessly. This is not to take anything away from Devin, who has improved his cleans immensely. Smooth and flowing, they enter your ears like the voice of an angel. There is a lot less auto-tune than Digital Renegade, which was my biggest complaint with that release. The gang vocals are a nice touch, and work perfectly when used. One of the best example for this is “Follow Your Leader” which showcases both in prime form. All in all, the smooth voice of Devin mixes flawlessly with the piercing screams from Zack to make one hell of a sound.
The instrumentals on this album are a prime example as to why electronicore can be amazing. I See Stars are showing why they are the frontrunners of the genre alongside Enter Shikari. The guitar work is superb. Not as complex as some of the more technical artists out there, but it doesn’t have to be. When it’s has to be complex, it is. When it’s doesn’t have to be, it’s simple. Both work perfectly for this album. The drum beats are hard hitting, in your face blasts of power. The bass is the binding tie that holds the main instruments together, and are powered but not too overpowered. The electronic portion of the music is the best it could be. The synths are amazing, the sequencer comes into play when needed, the keyboards are stellar, and it all keeps things fresh. The best example of instrumental work on this record has to be Murder Mitten. Combining stellar electronic with brutal metalcore (and an amazing dubstep ending to the track), it’s a perfect way to show off how amazing this band has come.
The lyrics are meaningful and powerful. In a generation where the popular thing is to brag about sex, drugs, and bitches this is what we need more of. The lyrics range from self-determination and confidence (Just take a look around, get off the floor, you were meant for so much more), escaping to a better life (You always say I need to get as far away as I can while I’ve got time to play with and any risk, I’ll take it or fade away in this suburban wasteland and watch all your plans sink right under your feet), and doing what you can for love (Open up your eyes and you’ll see, that I’m not perfect, that’s what I’m trying to be). The lyrics aren’t degrading or vulgar, they are inspiring and empowering. That’s what this generation needs.
The replay value is outstandingly high. This album can be played over and over again because you’ll always discover something new to love about it. This plays into the originality aspect, which is something that is hard to do nowadays. But I See Stars does it the best they can. Enter Shikari helped bring the electronicore to the light, but I See Stars are the clear innovators and contributors in today’s scene.
With near perfect sounds, amazing replay value, and a will to innovate in a day where the easy way is taken way too often, New Demons has all the makings to be album of the year. Very few artists have ever shown this much improvement within such a short amount of time. I See Stars are at the top of their game, and they show no sign of giving up that trend.