At the Skylines– To Build an Empire - EP
Record Label: Roadrunner Records
Release Date: September 18th, 2012
At the Skylines is a band that I like and I don’t like at the same time. That’s a paradox, I know, but let’s start with the bad news. I don’t like the Huntington Beach, CA six-piece because they are rather generic, and I’ll admit that. In the post-hardcore genre, not many bands are unique, and sadly, At the Skylines really isn’t one of them. However, I do like them because for what they do, they do it quite well. While I’m not a fan of generic bands, generic doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing. There are lots of bands I would classify as generic, but they’re not that bad. I digress, however; I became familiar with this band about two years ago when they released their first single “The Amazing Atom” featuring Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens. The song was wonderful, and I was really excited to see what else they would put out. Well, fast-forward to May 2012, and they finally put out their debut record “The Secrets to Life.” It was quite generic, but it was entertaining to listen to. Dual vocalists Chris Shelley (cleans) and Mark Barela (screams) really worked as a team on the record, and neither vocalist overshadowed one another. Other than their vocalists, there wasn’t much else that made them stand out. However, they announced last month the release of an acoustic EP. I was quite ecstatic for this, because I’m a huge fan of their Shelley. I also like how a few bands are releasing acoustic EPs, mainly Jamie’s Elsewhere, Sleeping With Sirens, and even pop-punk band A Loss For Words released an acoustic EP earlier this year, too. I’m a sucker for all things acoustic, so I was not disappointed whatsoever with this EP, entitled. “To Build an Empire.”
The thing I like most about this EP is that you know immediately what you’re going to get: four acoustic tracks, and nothing else, really. This isn’t an EP I would recommend to anyone who’s not familiar with this band. If you’re a fan of acoustic music, I would listen to this, regardless. You may not like their regular material, if you’re not into post-hardcore, but if you love acoustic, this is something worth listening to. The EP’s only four songs, which is a bit of a problem for me, considering these tracks are quite enjoyable. It leaves a bit to be desired, because I wish it was longer, but that’s easily forgivable. It’s forgivable because they do have acoustic versions of a couple of the tracks off “The Secrets to Life” that I absolutely enjoyed. Mainly, “Turbulence,” and “The Amazing Atom.” Ironically, the former starts off the EP, and the latter ends it. Those are the two highlights of the EP, and really, there’s not that much to say about it, because this is an acoustic EP. However, while the first three tracks are pretty standard acoustic tracks, the last track, “The Amazing Atom” is done beautifully.
Overall, if you’ve listened to this band before, this EP is not the place to start, unless you enjoy acoustic music. If so, I would listen to this, because you may enjoy it. If you don’t like post-hardcore, as I said, you may like their regular material. However, their acoustic stuff is absolutely fantastic. Shelley is easily one of the best clean vocalists of the post-hardcore scene right now, and if these guys were bigger, I wouldn’t hate the genre so much.