When it comes to being in an established band for over a decade, you start to get a lot of ideas. Some of these may not work with the aesthetic of your current band and so, you’re forced to either save them, create a new project or go solo with it. It is for this reason that Patrick Thompson (Alesana) teamed up with the Milbrandt Brothers (ex-Serianna), Clint Greendeer (ex-Guardians) and Dustin Helgestad (ex-Crossing the Delaware) to create metalcore onslaught Versus Me. While they clearly borrow influences from their previous bands, they don’t let it become overbearing or make it seem like they’re re-hashing the same ideas over again. Instead, they use their experience to create a sound that is fresh, incredibly intriguing and ever-changing. Their debut album, Changes, takes concepts brought on by real-life experience and sets them to a soundtrack that has a great habit of getting stuck in your head.
This album explodes from the get-go with “High Roads & Stepping Stones” fading in with a mid-tempo guitar riff that sounds both amazing and haunting with the addition of either (can’t fully tell) a keyboard or electronic part. Unclean vocalist James Milbrandt has always been one of my favorites, due to the way that he uses his range of screams and his addition to this band is no exception. The clean vocals that you hear come from Thompson, who has a high tenor range and gives the music a huge pop flavor. While not a concept album, Changes is thematic, in that it focuses on a person going through a lot in life to mold and shape them into who they are today. You’ll hear Escape the Fate vocalist Craig Mabbitt lend his voice to “(A)Tension” which is still one of my favorite tracks on the album because it does a great job of showing what this band is about. 5 individuals, with a common goal, to create music that they love and that their fans will love… for the sake of creating meaningful music. This album does a great job of conveying a message without shoving it down your throat. Breakdowns, memorable riffs and guitar solos, a huge sound/atmosphere and meaningful lyrics make this album worth every bit of your time. 13 tracks, including 3 incredible acoustic renditions and a remix that will get you bouncing, Changes has a little something for everyone.
Whether you followed these guys from their previous endeavors, primarily through Versus Me or are just discovering them through this review, I guarantee you won’t regret picking up a copy of Changes. It’s diversity, attention to detail and catchy choruses that will get stuck in your head (trust me) have made it one of my favorite albums of this year. Right now, you can pre-order your copy of Changes on iTunes but physical copies are on their way, for those who still prefer the medium.
“Just So You Know” (Official 360-Degree Music Video)
“(A)Tension (feat. Craig Mabbitt)” (Official Music Video)
Versus Me is:
James Milbrandt – Vocals
Patrick Thompson – Guitar/Vocals
Clint Greedeer – Guitar
Lee Milbrandt – Bass
Dustin Helgestad – Drums