RIYLAugust Burns Red
Tracklist1. Open Graves
2. Conversations with Fallen Saints
4. They Made Me the War Machine
6. A World of Wicked Men
7. The Violence of Our Kind
9. The Greater Hands of Lesser Sons
10. Make Amends
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Over two years ago I reviewed Letter to the Exiles’ debut album. At the time, the basic takeaway from that release was that it had heart but was rough around the edges. None of the songs really grabbed me, but I did like that it reminded me of the metalcore bands I listened to in college. Two years later, Letter to the Exiles has released Make Amends, this time with support from a bigger record label (Facedown Records) and some new members.
Unfortunately, none of those factors improved the quality of the band’s music. Letter to the Exiles went from ripping off metalcore bands circa 2002 to ripping off modern-day metalcore acts. The songs have more structure, there is a greater emphasis on clean singing, and the production is more polished. None of those positive qualities mean anything, though, if the songwriting is still uninspired. To be fair, the songwriting is actually inspired, it’s just inspired by every other metalcore band, leaving Letter to the Exiles with no identity of their own.
Every riff, breakdown, and vocal melody sounds like something that has already been done, but what saves Make Amends is that it’s executed well enough that the songs are still listenable. The drumming is sound, the guitarists have flourishes of creative melodies every so often, the screamed vocals are powerful, and the clean singing fits well with the music and adds variety to each track. Everything comes together in a generic fashion, though, which affects the replay value of Make Amends. It’s not a record that will keep you coming back, but once you hit Play, the experience still has some enjoyable moments.