Artist: Somewhere to Call Home
Album: Panic Disorder – EP
Between the years of 2016 and 2017, approximately 0.2% of the United States adult population were diagnosed with some subdivision of mental illness which falls under the broader umbrella known as panic disorder. In 2017, 2.7% of United States adults had—or have—panic disorder. This number continued to rise in subsequent years. That isn’t the hard part—epidemiology and statistics and number crunching isn’t the hard part—the hard part is asking why? Why are these numbers rising so dramatically? Some are quick to point the finger at the advent of social media, or of the increased stressors (or perceived stressors) of contemporary living. It’s likely multifactorial—and one contributing factor bound to throw the heavy music community into a frenzy is the new EP by New York nu-metalcore act Somewhere to Call Home, aptly titled Panic Disorder. Combining bounce and brutality into a fun, catchy and fast-paced release, Panic Disorder is energetic without fault—but where it is energetic, the band’s liveliness is a knife that cuts both ways, leaving the listener with an experience that feels incomplete.
Instrumentally, Somewhere to Call Home are fun—which maybe isn’t what the name Panic Disorder might imply. The band combine various elements from nu metal and metalcore to give the listener something punchy without sacrificing aggression. Songs like the album’s introduction, or the lead single “Unwanted,” do this excellently, with pummeling percussion that serves as a sturdy backbone for low, gritty and slinking bass. “Unwanted” is especially prominent in this regard, with a beefy low end that gives the eerie guitars plenty of room to oscillate back and forth between riff-drive groove and gutwrenching aggression. Meanwhile, songs like “Take it Away” and “Are You Happy?” are catchier, with a focus more on melody to give the listener a metallic barbed hook to latch on to, staying stuck in their head for days. While this all sounds well and good, unfortunately, it’s just that—good—but not great, or otherwise tremendously memorable. Many of the twists and turns Somewhere to Call Home take throughout Panic Disorder—instrumentally at least—are predictable, and while fun at first, age poorly, giving the listener little reason to return to them after the initial couple spins have run their course. While many of the songs have their catchy moments and their heavy moments, the segments in between fade quickly.
Vocally—and lyrically—Panic Disorder lives up to its name. The band’s vocals sound strung out and anxious, belting out harsh howls and shrill screams that fit Somewhere to Call Home’s dynamic and style to a tee. “Unwanted,” once more, takes the cake here—both vocally and lyrically—but unfortunately, it only slides downhill from there. While the band’s vocal element is strong, it is monotonous. It fits the band’s message and overall sound brilliantly, so it isn’t necessarily a drag on the listener, but it also doesn’t go above and beyond to keep the listener hooked. Likewise, the band’s lyrics feel heartfelt, but also feel repetitive. It would be remiss to dock the band based on writing personal and intimate lyrics, but many of the tracks feel homogenous, or at best, heard-before from their previous effort or the works of their peers. This is true even considering the impressive guest appearance by Animal’s Sean Loucks. While, like the instrumental effort, Somewhere to Call Home’s vocal element comes out swinging, it doesn’t exactly land every punch.
I realize I might be coming across harsh on Somewhere to Call Home—and I am, to a point—but it’s only because the band’s debut was promising (immensely so, at that). While Panic Disorder isn’t a step backwards, per se, it doesn’t move the band forwards at all. Unfortunately, Panic Disorder is a decent effort that will get lost in the shuffle fairly quickly. It lacks enough stopping power to keep it constant rotation to all but the band’s closest following. While it might not be bad enough to spiral the listener into a panic, it certainly won’t be inciting any mass panics either.
For Fans Of: Animal, My Own Will, VCTMS
By: Connor Welsh