Ahh, what an experience to watch Confide progress and then fall. The band's first full-length, Shout the Truth, is still frequently spun in my library as an excellent example of Christian post-hardcore originality. Confide's second release, Recover, though not as well-received on my end, still had a few gems of its own, and it showed great promise for the future. So, the experience of Confide's three-year hiatus ending in great Kickstarter fashion, California’s quintet has returned to us with its self-released All is Calm and a proverbial Noah’s Ark-load of hype on its heels.
The first thing I noticed (as well as half of the YouTube streamers when this record leaked) is that some of the guitar riffs seem almost pasted from Bring Me the Horizon’s discography. That being said, the first three tracks (“Rise Up,” “Sooner Or Later” and “We Just Wanted Freedom”) bring a lot to the table to defer that thought. Ross’ screams have maintained their original, emotionally stirring sound to them, which is a huge plus considering the three-year hiatus could’ve definitely taken its toll if he wasn’t careful. One gripe I was getting with them was the obviously overproduction on Joel Piper’s clean vocals. I understand that it was his studio, but that overproduction makes it stand out in the wrong way, cutting into the heavy track and jarring me a bit.
It is with the fourth track, “Days Are Gone,” that the album begins falling from the peak. Though it is a good track, it is reminiscent of a new Falling in Reverse track: an attempt to be catchy by sacrificing substance, both in instrumentation and lyrics. The drop between this track and the fifth, “I Won’t Let You Go,” is much more reminiscent of a cliff fall than a roller coaster. We’ve reached the verdict at this point that the cheeky synth is here to stay, yet Ross’ vocals remain as the shining light above the Bring Me the Horizon rip-off riffs. After this, the song breaks into a full out auto-tuned falsetto chorus that honestly hurt my ears, and it begs me to answer the question: just how much say did Joel have in the song-writing process? It seems with several of these tracks, the emphasis on the band as a whole just seems pushed aside, leaving boring verses to try and support overly poppy choruses that sound too faked to take seriously.
Aside from the track “Somewhere to Call Home” breaking the poppy trend and reminding me a bit of Recover’s feel, there really isn’t much to this album to give Confide a reason to actually be back. The songs lack the feeling and emotion that Shout the Truth and Recover had, and the lyrical content has been dumbed down to a degree that can’t be forgiven because of Joel’s vocal production. Choruses like those on the tracks “Move On” and “Unhappy Together, Unhappy Alone” lost their feeling, almost like if I See Stars tried to be serious and emotional, yet retained their happy, poppy feel of their record 3D. Once taken to a certain degree, it stops working, and that’s a lesson that Confide didn’t get the chance to learn because of the self-production.
To the fans that dropped money on the Kickstarter expecting a grand comeback for this band, All is Calm does not come even close to living up to the hype. That being said, Confide can take this record as a lesson to be learned. In my opinion, there is such a thing as honesty in songwriting, and it doesn’t seem like Confide was being honest in their writing. All is Calm feels like it's there for the sake of being there, nothing else. They put out a record to appease the fans, and that is all. Confide, learn from this mistake.