Published on December 20th, 2012 | by Denise Borders
Outline in Color “Jury of Wolves” Album Review
Outline in Color
“Jury of Wolves”
Hello all you punk rockers out there, let me tell you how excited I am to introduce the scene’s newest creation: ladies and gentlemen, all the way from Tulsa, Oklahoma, I present you: Outline In Color. Forged from the remnants of stagnant bands in their local scene in 2010, Outline in Color set out to do whatever everyone else is doing, and that includes becoming a famous post hardcore band. Outline in Color cater to the hot topic CD rack on their latest album Jury Of Wolves, produced by guitarist See Jay Cochran and mixed by Andrew Wade (A Day to Remember, The Word Alive).
K.C. Simonsen – Vocals
Trevor Tatro – Vocals
Forrest Mankins – Guitar
See Jay Cochran – Guitar
Michael Skaggs – Bass
Austin Mcferrin – Drums
Does every album need an intro these days? When was the last time you put on a hard rocking album and there wasn’t some theatric instrumental that leads into the “real” first track? Like so, we begin the album with “The Kindling” an attempted vocal opus among familiar Synth pads with accompanying sampled drum and bass parts. Setting the stage with the familiar high pitched male vocal, you can visualize his haircut as his voice enters your ears. Then as it crescendos-we are at second track.
You’ll never guess how “Follow Me to Sleep” starts. It starts with a breakdown. Soon after, the two vocalists begin to trade of vocal runs among typical punk paced power chords. At 2:00 you’ll hear the coolest thing on the entire album and sadly it is interrupted by a breakdown with an extremely irritating Synth loop. The never ending, boring breakdowns continue in the title track “Jury of Wolves” with a riff very much in the style of older The Devil Wears Prada. Soon the channel is changed and the boy who tries to sing pretty takes over. Another breakdown occurs that is worthy of some nodding, otherwise this band choses to make slight variations on the same material. ??“Hope in The Wrong Hands” begins with the screamer gurgling his angry prose into our ears. At 1:00 some Chiodos style piano lines creep and our attention is maintained for that period of time. The typical trading between heavy break down and epic chorus is utilized yet again. However the juices of rock start to boil and by the end and we experience another super pumped up epic ending in all its emo scene glory. “The Chase Scene” is the bands “single” on the album and it is only moderately listen-able. Its a fast paced rocker with cool lead guitars that fill every sonic space available with heavy effects.
“Charlie Machine” begins with mosh heavy guitar belches. In this song Trevor and K.C. Try to reach out to the listeners in hopes of inspiring them: “dismiss your selfishness then vanquish your selfishness” Trevor Tatro screams. Soon K.C. Comes in saying “And let go to the ones that you hold close, Or hold on as you feel them let you go.” Frankly, I don’t know whether to dismiss my selfishness or hold close to the ones letting go of me holding on. “Karma Made Me an Arsonist” is catchy and for once in the album I’m impressed with the vocal abilities of K.C. He shows up Trevor Tatro on this one. K.C. Launches his high pitches with power and force in the name of emo.
“The Good in Me” proceeds to take lyrical cliches to horrible places as the musical theme is incessantly repeated. “A Fracture, A Fallout” tries to mix things up with a dance-y drum beat, but still manages to repeat itself. “I’ve Had This Dream Before” breaks up the monotony with a piano driven ballad, under K.C. Vibrato vocals that shake your body with every note. Symphonic like synths then bleed into the mix and the sentiment is gently welcomed into our ears. “I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts”, ends this mediocre album with very elaborate drums that will most likely go unnoticed and under-appreciated. Grand Pianos invade the song, and we crescendo into a larger than life ending, complete with all the typical elements required of power metal and scene emo.
There are three bonus tracks on the version of the album I received “Tapdance at Knuckle Junction” which doesn’t begin with a breakdown for a change, but unfortunately a breakdown happens as soon as we realize this. The chorus rocks us back in forth with a melodic bounce we can all enjoy, and then the band bring out their toughness with a two part breakdown that I fairly declare does deserve some head nodding and a “pass” for the hardcore kids to mosh if they dare. “It’s Gonna Be Me” (yes, they covered N’sync) which is nothing worth listening to and finally an acoustic version of “The Good in Me” which is considerably better than the original track, and the most listen-able (possibly original?) thing on the entire album. They break out the flamenco influenced guitar licks, ragtime drumbeats, and pop vocals to deliver much to my surprise, a good song.
You ever eat a plain bagel? How about without cream cheese or butter? Have you ever ate a pumpernickel bagel (the dark brown one)? Now try eating one of those, PLAIN-with no cream cheese, no butter, no lox spread, no peanut butter, nothing. Absolutely plain. That is the literal equivalent to the experience of listening to Outline in Color. Now lets not say anything bad about pumpernickel, its good for you, it may taste very good lightly toasted and plain. However, you don’t hear too many people raving about the experience either, because its not that good.
Outline in Color must be extremely brave saying things like: “ [we] never aspired to sound similar to any specific band on the scene. We just knew what sound we wanted and we created it,” (says bassist Mike Skaggs). Or “Relentless, determined, confident and eager. We have never once doubted ourselves,” (said guitarist Forrest Mankins). Yes confidence counts, but presumption doesn’t: “It is clear that after one listen through Jury Of Wolves, this is simply the beginning for what this sextet can expect to experience as a long lasting career”. On top of it all, this band ironically titled their debut album “Jury of Wolves”. So essentially they’ve extended the invitation to be torn to pieces by every critic and music fan out there. Because not only what they set out to do is sound like everyone else, but their very existence utilizes popular trends to the point of conscious contrivance. Most importantly, their lyrics have no thematic content that resembles anything of artistic substance, or intellectual value. Instead, their lyrics paint abstract pictures of non-nonsensical chicles. Finally there is a keyboard player who should rightfully be in the band, but is nowhere to be found. Where is he? Because this band actually necessitates a keyboard/sampler in the band, yet he doesn’t exist. I understand it is very difficult to make something truly original at this point in time in the music industry, but by all means at least try. Not only has Outline in color failed to do this, but I suspect they deliberately concocted this sound that has been proved so successful in the past. Its this kind of position that a lot of bands have put themselves and it means that they are either completely insincere or definitively naive. I’d say this band is a lot of both.
Understanding this, we must also come to terms that there are people that are not only going to like this music, but vehemently defend it as well. I have briefly perused the comments section on their official video for “The Chase Scene” and already the discussion has turned volatile. There is an avid debate of what the term “Generic” constitutes, and many people are quick to emotionally react towards criticism. “Why does the screamer guy have Oreos in his ears?” a young girl commented. I thought long and hard about this statement, and found it the most profound thing to say on behalf of this band, that could ever be said.
View the music video here
with A Hero A Fake and Myka, Relocate.
12/18- Tulsa, OK @ The eclipse
12/19- Little Rock, AR@ Juanita’s
12/20- Springfield, MO @ The Lemon Drop
12/21-Blytheville, AR @ The Red Room
Buy Jury of Wolves on iTunes here