Metalcore is not necessarily a universally beloved genre, even among college students. Even the tiresome response to a polite question about someone’s musical taste, “anything but country,” arguably includes an implicit “and anything that features screaming.” Even though this may be true, Minnesota metalcore band Reflections' new album “The Color Clear" is surprisingly therapeutic when approached with an open mind.
Upon first listen, “The Color Clear” can sound like a stereotype of its own genre: a lot of scraping guitars, constant, rapid downbeats with no relief and a line or two that consists only of the word “F---!" sung by what sounds like a divine snake.
If you can allow yourself to see past the conventions of the metalcore world, though, some interesting juxtapositions begin to penetrate your consciousness. “We fit together like puzzle parts, nothing in this world could tear us apart,” sings Jake Wolf, the band’s lead singer, on the second track, “Autumnus.” Sure, it’s about the most hackneyed analogy that exists, but it is interesting to hear “puzzle parts,” evocative of bright colors and children playing games, laid over sounds that usually evoke storms and syringes.
The vocal style, clearly, can be distracting if one isn’t used to it. In terms of instruments, though, Reflections sounds at times like The xx— matter-of-factly dreary, rather than dramatic and self-pitying. But the sound of self-pity is hard to fend off for long, since it comes with the sound of the band’s signature guitar playing.
Because there are clear connections to less intense, less dramatic artists, “The Color Clear” is a good introduction to the metalcore genre. The rhythm is difficult to get lost in, and the instruments stay pretty lyrical rather than noisy. Several songs have very nice, ambient portions, such as “Limbo,” “Amulet” and “Translucence.” But the guitar is never far off and always, regrettably, comes crashing in.
“The Color Clear” is not a must-listen, but is not necessarily a waste of time. It’s definitely — maybe counterintuitively — comforting to hear another person reacting so primitively to the things that disturb him. The album is perfect for those who like to challenge their tastes.