The fusion of R&B and hip-hop with metalcore isn’t a new phenomenon but it’s certainly not a popular one. Once upon a time, Issues reigned on the throne of this particular sub-genre, but now given how far their star has fallen, it largely finds itself populated with embarrassing attempts at modernity and unwanted throwbacks to the halcyon days of crunkcore. Thus, it’s a rather worrying sight to see Siamese described as ‘R&B-core’, almost as if they’re inviting the secondhand scorn that’s rolling off the saturated bodies of Eskimo Callboy and the like, but on the other hand, they’re at least owning their presence in the scene. They talk about pop music with a degree of seriousness compared to the way so many others use it as an underlining concession, and if nothing else, it gives some hope that they could offer more on Super Human than the bare minimum. Last year’s Shameless did rather well for them on an impressively wide scale, so clearly there’s something here.
It’s not like that isn’t true either, but when judged on the grading scale of quality awarded to other similar bands, the fact that Siamese aren’t a total garbage fire hardly feels like a quote to stick on the back of the album. Super Human has its moments, and an abundance of melodies and hooks definitely works in its favour throughout, but a concoction that ends up this formulaic and disjointed struggles to capture the interest for a significant amount of time. It leaves Siamese as a band who appear capable in parts, but that doesn’t suffice over the course of an entire album, especially in a scene that has trouble connecting at the best of times.
But where Siamese do deserve credit, though, is, when they pull more liberally from the R&B and hip-hop pool – or even just generally move away from more standard metalcore – they prove that they’re actually capable at cultivating the fun and svelte edge that so often gets shoved into cringeworthiness. The best example is the opener B.A.N.A.N.A.S with its sample of Gwen Stefani’s Hollaback Girl that isn’t necessarily in place but serves as the ideal punched-up coda for the best song on the album, but it’s refreshing to see effort even if it doesn’t always totally. pay off. The trap murk of the title track might lead into the melodi-metal chorus with an audible thud, but the attempt at a fusion is definitely interesting, and for as much as their cover of The Weeknd’s Party Monster could be slotted onto any Punk Goes Pop album without anyone batting an eyelid, it feels like Siamese actually know what they’re doing when approaching these areas. Of course, praising them for that is probably giving them too much credit overall; the most frequent pivots are still in the form of auxiliary window dressing around some pretty bog-standard melodic metalcore, and even if Mirza Radonjica has a good voice that can actually elevate those choruses to something rather decent, there’s nothing mind-blowing about any of this. It’s all largely listenable, sure, but it’s also disposable, and when there’s currently so much of this sort of thing floating around, having bare fragments to distinguish themselves just doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t help when the writing is nothing special either, recycling numerous pop and metalcore clichés without much innovation or new skill. The Max Martin influence that’s been so proudly linked to this album has clearly seeped into the lyrics which, again, are serviceable, but have all the staged poise and populism of countless 2000s pop songs, a trait which itself has seeped into metalcore at large and only serves to make Siamese appear even more faceless.
It’s not even like they’re not capable of being saved either; there are plenty in this very sub-genre who are firmly dug into the ground in that camp, and to see Siamese placed next to them only shows just how much of an improvement they are. But that’s a disparity ranging from ‘god-awful’ to ‘generally middling with a few solid moments’, which in the grand scheme of things, feels like the most tentative forward motion imaginable. At the end of the day though, it’s hardly worth getting worked up about Super Human, mostly because it’s not going to stick around. If that was ever going to be a factor for Siamese, they’d have done more after five albums and almost a decade of existence than just slinking into the background where they won’t be noticed.
For fans of: Issues, Awaken I Am, Hands Like Houses
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Super Human’ by Siamese is released on 24th May on Long Branch Records.