Scottish quartet Twin Atlantic clearly have grand ambitions for themselves. Throughout the making of this, their second album, they probably had a slip of paper glued to their eyes with the words “Coldplay, but hard-core” written on it. However, the band’s shift towards stadium-sized music has meant that the group’s more unique qualities have been left behind.
The target and selling point for The Great Divide is anthem rock, but the record’s messy and generic execution means that it fails to stand out. It’s clear that the Band have put a lot of effort into their second album, perhaps after too many reviewers sighed a collective “Meh” at their debut; but there’s trying hard, and then there’s trying too hard. The Great Divide tends to fall into the latter category, with singer Sam McTrusty pretty much screaming his lungs out whenever the chorus dictates it, absolutely murdering his otherwise beautiful voice.
Even though there’s something commendable about Twin Atlantic’s resolute determination to remain on the slightly harder side of main-stream rock music (it harks back to the band’s wilder beginnings) at times this becomes altogether too much. It seems that subtlety is a concept that The Great Divide refuses to acknowledge, and all that stodgy guitar bashing tends to weigh the album’s softer moments down. After three unrelenting tracks placed one after the other (‘Heart and Soul’, ‘Hold On’ and ‘Fall Into The Party’), the fatigue is already kicking in and you’re not even half way.
Production is another crippling issue, with the sound-levels often going all over the shop. It’s especially noticeable in ‘Fall Into The Party’, with the cataclysmic guitar orgy completely overwhelming poor McTrusty; who desperately tries to be heard through the chaos. But perhaps the album’s biggest sin is that it feels like Twin Atlantic have taken their debut’s weakest song: ‘Free’, and expanded it into one full length, twelve track long drag. The band appears to have exchanged all their wonderful spitting and joyful bitterness, for a desire to be inspirational and admirable and all that rubbish. Sure there’s the hysteria of ‘I Am An Animal’ and the uncontained fury of ‘Cell Mate’, which is actually one of the album’s better tracks, but in comparison to their sordid song history it’s slim pickings.
All in all, it’s sad to see such a promising act become so average. The album’s not terrible by any stretch, but it’s certainly nothing to crow about. For a band that started out so gleefully harsh, it’s a shame that The Great Divide is so woefully soppy.
The Great Divide was released by Red Bull Records on August 18th