Album: I’m Not the Same
When’s the last time you felt out of place? As though the world was moving on without you, and whether you ran your hardest or barely moved, there was no pace that would you put you at par with it’s incessant candor. You were always—and are always—just stuck there, in the same mood, at the same place within the same shitty four walls in the same shitty town in some God-forsaken corner of the country without a single soul to relate to.
You’re a fucking loser.
Maybe you’ve felt this way—I know I have—and it’s about as awful as it sounds. Maybe, by some chance, you haven’t felt this way; that maybe your whole life has gone a-okay and you’ve never been the odd man/woman/person out. If that’s the case, part of me envies you and the life of ignorant bliss you must lead—but a lot of me, on the other hand, pities you, because it means you won’t relate nearly as readily to the incredible, emotional and volatile breed of infectious self-loathing and despair that laces every syllable, strum and smack of the snare drum that defines the debut album by Michigan nu metal act Loser. Drawing from yester-year’s genre-defining acts as readily as they draw influence from more contemporary blends of nu-metal and metalcore, Loser’s long-awaited debut release, I’m Not the Same is every bit as personal and laden with angst as the title might imply. However, it doesn’t just end there—because much in keeping with the release’s title, Loser themselves are not the same as any other act out there right now—and if it isn’t apparent from their circulating singles, it certainly will be by the time you finish “Psychadelia.”
I’m Not the Same isn’t another “heavy” album with some cool effects and edgy lyrics that make it “nu”-something or other—and it’s much more than a Korn/Slipknot tribute band with a new name and face. Instead, they’re a band influenced by peers in genres spanning from gloomy, bitter grunge to sharp, sinister metalcore and—of course—bouncy, electrifying nu metal. Percussionist Jacob Partrich is punishing and precise, setting the tone for the entirety of Loser’s debut. Songs like “Breathing Happiness,” or the raunchy “Kool Kidz” see him working with bassist Erik Into to create moments of spine-shrinking brutality that make the listener do a double take so quick their neck might snap—and if their neck doesn’t snap from the double-take, it will snap from the sheer force behind the climactic breakdown within “I Hate Everyone.” Meanwhile, songs like “Pretend” are ever-so-slightly more muted, as are tracks like the well-rounded “Dirty Girl,” that are, simply put, mind warping. Partrich’s drumming remains on point, adding ferocious and quick fills between solid patterns and punchy beats that keep the release roaring along, while Into’s thick, writhing bass adds depth and heft to Partrich’s more flashy and ethereal moments. Where Loser’s instrumentation takes its full shape is with guitarist John Hillman’s fine-yet-ferocious touch. Hillman’s soul-smothering chugs and bone-crunching breakdowns on “Kool Kidz,” “I Hate Everyone” and “Crooked Teeth” are among the heaviest to hit the streets recently—while songs like “Escape” feel like an odd, atmospheric amalgamation of Nirvana, Marilyn Manson and something that really defies explanation altogether. Finally, there’s the curious and ballad-esque “Bleach,” which sees Hillman (and all of Loser) doing something different from the rest of their debut album; met, of course, with overwhelming success. I’m Not the Same is more than another wanna-be-nu-metal release with some breakdowns and a corny interlude; it’s a truly unique chimera of crushing aggression, bitter self-loathing and brooding, angsty and bittersweet nostalgia; this is as true of the musicianship as it is the vocal element.
Where Loser truly define all that makes them an intense and intimately psychotic experience is with the emotional relatability and incredible honesty found within the vocal cords of frontman Alex Stankewitz. Stankewitz lets loose with a sprawling range of styles—from brooding and burly lows growls to shrill shrieks and eerie, ghastly singing, his broad display of vocal prowess is only matched by how bare and emotionally earnest his lyricism is. Songs like “Kool Kidz” emphasize the former—where Stankewitz showcases an incredible vocal range to go alongside Loser’s lurid, low-end heaviness. Meanwhile, “Bleach” is a ballad gone wrong in the best way possible, where Stankewitz lyricism is simply jaw dropping, and his voice is mellow and moody, sounding almost anesthetized beneath ten thousand CCs of heartbreak. Stankewitz takes Loser’s magnificent instrumental variety and contemporary, creative musical mastery and adds vocals that are both catchy (“Bleach,” “I Hate Everyone,” “Dirty Girl”) and cruel (“Crooked Teeth,” “Kool Kidz”), adding emphasis to the sense that this Midwest quartet are more than just another “heavy band” (as many acts are wrongfully desperate to emphasize these days), and are indeed emotionally in-tune with the finer aspects of remorse, despair, depression and energetic self-loathing.
I’m Not the Same is a stellar example of a break out band truly breaking the mold. What Loser might lack in experience and age they more than make up for with a unique sound and style that draws clear influence from several noteworthy and immense bands, but doesn’t sound like any of them. Every song on I’m Not the Same brings something unique to the record, further filling out Loser’s dynamic—to a point that by the time their debut release has ticked down its last seconds, it is bursting at the seems with bitterness, brash aggression, and brooding, depressive and downtrodden honesty. From frantic fretwork to punishing percussion and Stankewitz’s soaring screams and softly crooned syllables, I’m Not the Same the kind of record where after you hear it, you truly won’t be the same.
For Fans Of: VCTMS, Slipknot, Sworn In, Sleep Waker, Korn,