The reason that the scene sat up and took notice when Beartooth first impacted was because it had to. Coming at a time when metalcore was hitting dire straits in terms of lack of inspiration and real drive, the Ohio wrecking crew virtually ripped that paradigm open for a whole new wave of acts that would come to galvanise the genre over the course of the following years. Perhaps that’s why The White Noise are yet to receive such a drastic response; their collision of post-hardcore, hardcore, punk and emo might cover a whole bunch of bases, but it comes at a time when this sort of rougher, crossbred take on rock already carries a solid market share.
Or perhaps, in terms of an opening salvo, AM / PM doesn’t quite have the sort of blunt force that it should. That’s not to say it’s bad by any means – give The White Noise a couple more releases and some time for seasoning and they could become a seriously formidable unit – but at the minute, what they want to do with their sound doesn’t quite match the expectation, with some transitions between styles hitting with something of a thud. That’s the main issue with taking in so many different genres, and the sequencing of AM / PM doesn’t exactly help when it comes to mitigating the lack of flow; having the sunny ’90s pop-punk of I Lost My Mind (In California) sandwiched between the two searing hardcore flurries of The Best Songs Are Dead and Rated R… makes for an audible trough in pace that’s nigh on impossible to ignore. It improves towards the end with a trio of tracks drawing more on melodic post-hardcore, but seems to sacrifice a lot of the album’s energy to do so, especially the sluggish Montreal which takes far too long to get going (though it’s arguable whether it does at all). At the minute The White Noise are caught in the divide between maintaining cohesion and energy, and in that respect AM / PM is a fairly obvious case of a debut album, packed with ideas that still need to be realised as a whole entity.
Having said that, it’s not as if The White Noise struggle with hitting each mark individually; taken in isolation, there’s not a track on this album in which the band can’t pull off its style with some degree of competence and panache. Bite Marks and Picture Day bear a healthy slug of Sempiternal-era Bring Me The Horizon in their mix, while Innocent Until Birth is the sort of shredding hardcore rager that’s perfect for kicking any album into gear. Even the most curved of curveballs feel natural, like the Weezer / Offspring mashup of I Lost My Mind (In California), or Sunspots with a windswept quality that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Hands Like House album, mainly because the band themselves can make all of this sound believable. There’s tangible fury in both Shawn Walker’s screams and David Southern’s grizzled cleans, whether that’s directed at a rejected ex on Picture Day or Internet trolls on Rated R…, while 24 Hour Revenge Therapy and Sunspots are flooded with real emotion, and I Lost My Mind (In California) even nails the slackerish college rock vibe that much of its source material is characterised by.
It’s clear that The White Noise know what they’re doing here, given the calibre of AM / PM as a collection of songs. But honestly, that’s all it satisfies as for the time being, a collection of songs as opposed to a full album. To see pretty much all of their ideas pull through in the end warrants the high praise they’re getting, but there’s a feeling below the surface that everything could be strung together. As of now, The White Noise have succeeded in the most difficult task of getting a good result from the myriad of different bands they want to be; find a way to turn that into a cohesive sophomore project, and this won’t be the last you’ll hear the name.
For fans of: Beartooth, Bring Me The Horizon, Comeback Kid
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘AM / PM’ by The White Noise is out now in Fearless Records.