New Years Day - Victim to Villain
Record Label: Century Media
Release Date: June 11th, 2013
New Years Day's history as a band is a pretty depressing one. Before their first album, My Dear, was released, they turned down a record deal from Pete Wentz's Decaydance Records in favor of a deal on TVT. My Dear was released, and the band seemed to be ready to break into the mainstream, with blackened pop-punk jams mixed in with smirky and coy lyricism. Their music appeared in video games, and they were landing tours with other bands that were also hitting it big. A year later, their label TVT collapsed, crippling them financially. The band went silent for nearly four years, until a major shake up (Home Grown's Adam Lorbach leaving the band) seemingly resurrected New Years Day, allowing them to try their hand again.
It makes perfect sense then, that the title of the album is Victim to Villain, which implies a transformative act within frontwoman Ashley Costello. From being knocked off the stage of Warped Tour and forced to watch as other bands in her position were able to succeed, to finally taking reign and tour the world again. With all of this pent up emotion then, why is Victim to Villain so...neutered?
The album starts with Do Your Worst, a power chord romp with some piano out of a "spooky sounds" cd you're likely to pick up at a Walgreens during Halloween. With this first track, the album would like to lead the listener to believe that the star of the show would be Costello, however the next track brings the instrumentation to the forefront, with some crunchy black metal-lite riffs presupposing that there might be a little more bite to the album. This trend continues on "Bloody Mary," where gang vocals and guitar solos are added to the mix, while Costello seems to get more comfortable and animated in her delivery.
And then there's pretty much nothing of note for four tracks. There's some really dumb and out of place synths on Death of the Party, but that's about it. They all have such identical structure that leads one to believe they wrote a meandering twelve minute slush instead of four songs that stand on their own. This is curbed momentarily by the track "Angel Eyes," where Motionless In White's Chris Motionless seems to try and get the band back into it by delivering a pretty decent performance. Motionless and Costello compliment each other well, and he gets to show off his singing chops. The band seems to want to step up to the plate and throw on some heavier riffs, yet they remain somewhat restrained in this. The penultimate track "Tombstone" acts as a vocal showcase for Costello, where she displays a bit of vulnerability, though it feels a little calculated and too on the nose. The closer "Last Great Love Story" sounds like a time machine to 2006 and swoop hair cuts. It's a fun track, and it exists as a pretty decent summation of what's on the album.
While there may be some bright points on the album, on the whole, the album just doesn't have enough bite to stand out. Some may look at their image and think the band is trying too hard to be dark or evil, when really their sound isn't anywhere as sinister as it should be. There are hints in the instrumentation that the guitarists might want to do something kind of harsh, but they're just too restrained in conforming to boring verse chorus structure. Costello obviously has chops as well, but rarely challenges herself and doesn't deliver enough credibility to her lyrics.
Victim to Villain would like to imply that New Years Day is capable of murder, when in reality they sound too timid to even start a pillow fight.