Oh joy, another chance to discuss how metalcore is still one of the most overstuffed, least diverse genres on the market… What’s even worse is that some of these bands aren’t even sticking to this, instead defecting to whatever’s popular at this very second. Yeah, The Word Alive’s Dark Matter was great, but there’s no need to copy and paste the formula not even six months after it’s been released. To be fair, The Color Morale have always been in tune with the more melodic, cleaner side of metalcore, and historically they’ve not been bad at it – 2014’s Hold On Pain Ends was solid enough even though it’s since been pretty much forgotten by everyone. Admittedly, long-term memorability has never been The Color Morale’s strongest suit, but on fifth album Desolate Divine they seemed to have regressed in that department – this is a band who truly are just another face in the crowd.
It’s clearer than even on this album that there isn’t a single original thought in The Color Morale’s collective heads. Especially in its back half, Desolate Divine is so rigid in the formula that it follows, it becomes wearisome in record time – largely cleanly-sung metalcore that’s somewhat understated in its verses before kicking into choruses that focus too heavily on bluster and limit any sort of appeal. While this isn’t necessarily bad as an approach – when used in the right capacity it can have a fair amount of potency – the way in which The Color Morale saturate this album with track after track of the exact same thing feels as though they’re drastically short on ideas.
Now, Desolate Divine isn’t a complete washout, because there are certainly moments where The Color Morale make their meagre artistic potential work. Cuts like Clip Paper Wings and Trail Of Blood draw upon more prominent alt-rock influences for a sound that’s more traditionally anthemic, and even with the hints of AutoTune that can be picked up, frontman Garret Rapp has a solid voice with plenty of emotive power, especially on the likes of Version Of Me. Even these areas don’t stray too far away from the slick, impeccably produced sound that the band gun for all the way through, but there’s at least some enjoyability to hone in on, or something that sees The Color Morale developing some character of their own, rather than just piggybacking off other bands.
But though Desolate Divine may sound gutsy, those guts rarely amount to anything exciting, or that can elevate above mid-tier. More often than not, the instruments feel so compressed to give the illusion of grandeur, and again, there’s nothing here that’s remotely original, or at the very least, something that could allow you to tell this is The Color Morale rather than any of a myriad of other faceless, C-list metalcore acts. This is ground that has been more well-trodden than a festival field on a Monday morning, and as a result this album leaves no lasting impression whatsoever. This is especially true as the album tails off on tracks like Fauxtographic Memory, whose sole, notable feature is its awkwardly homonymic title. Even the lyrical content of the tracks themselves, largely focusing on depression and mental health, are recycled wholesale from themselves.
It does nothing to conjure up a positive image of this album. Desolate Divine is by no stretch the worst metalcore album released this year, but it’s certainly one of the most anonymous. It can’t be argued that The Color Morale have musical presence, but that’s in favour of pretty much everything else, and everything suffers as a result. As of now, The Color Morale’s fate seems to be sealed as one of those bands who just keeps churning out material, whether it’s wanted or now, to minimal response. Saying that, fans will no doubt get a kick out of Desolate Divine, provided they actually remember it in about a month’s time.
For fans of: Memphis May Fire, We Came As Romans, The Amity Affliction
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Desolate Divine’ by The Color Morale is released on 19th August on Fearless Records.