Were it an acceptable course of action, this entire review would consist of the word “No”, furiously typed thousands of times in as many different fonts, sizes, and colours. Unfortunately, as accurately as that would convey my feelings towards this band, it would also be a disservice to the reader to not give an in depth analysis of exactly why they make me so kitten-punting angry. So, with that in mind, here is my fair and unbiased opinion:
Abandon All Ships first pompously strutted onto my radar in mid-2007, assaulting the Toronto music scene with an astonishingly tasteless blend of wife beaters, haircuts, and something that can only be referred to as ‘music’ by the most superficial definition of the word. At shows they acted like unsupervised children, loudly remarking during sound-checks about how they were the only noteworthy act on the bill, striking insufferable poses for cringe-worthy photo-ops, and just generally filling venues with the palpable stink of trendy, undeserved narcissism. In short, they struck me as bastards, and a dark, ominous cloud instantly surrounded them, as they were clearly the exact breed of bastard that would soon soak the collective panties of the musically illiterate, and subsequently those of a major record label.
Unsurprisingly, they were almost instantly picked up by part-time bastard-peddlers Underground Operations, having broken the surface of obscurity through an appearance on MuchMusic’s Disband, during which they seemed to carry an almost otherworldly fervor to garner my overt distaste. In that sense, they must be congratulated, as before they had even played their first note as a signed act, I was already praying that someone from the Westboro Baptist Church would show up to protest this musical abortion. Oh, right, the music. It’s rather unfair of me to criticize them entirely on their jersey-shore aesthetic, especially when there’s much more suitable fodder laying spread eagle in the auditory dumpsters they pass off as tracks.
Oh your song sucks? Just add thousands of dollars worth of lights. Now your song sucks, but is epicly lit.
If a man wants to dress like a jackass and walk through life acting like the world owes him something without ever bothering to earn it, that is his prerogative as a douchebag, and it is not for me or anyone else to tell him how to be one. It is, however, my responsibility as a critic to warn the world at large about the dangers of allowing this toxic mentality to be represented sonically, and also to do my part to rally all who will listen against accepting such transgressions into the mainstream, strictly on the pretense that bad behaviour should not be rewarded. As if to directly counteract this notion, Abandon All Ships have just been getting more popular somehow, much in the same way that cases of ‘bath salt’ usage continue to rise in spite of the growing number of zombie outbreaks it apparently causes.
Much like a zombie outbreak, their music is a mindless, nightmarish, violent mess that simply refuses to die. It shamelessly blends every trend-du-jour into a cocktail of mediocre electro-dance-metal-pop-core that can only be described as slightly worse than getting oral sex from a garbage disposal full of broken glass. Yeah, I know, I’m being harsh and unnecessarily graphic. One would be forgiven for the assumption that I’m working out a personal vendetta against them with this write-up, as if they had personally come to my house, ate all my Doritos, broke my Xbox, and wiped their muddy feet on my freshly vacuumed carpet. Well, it sure feels like they did, but in fact, they’ve done nothing to me personally, short of sucking so hard that Sasha Grey lists them as an inspiration.
Above: Abandon All Ships accepting the award for most unsettling use of hairspray and bowties
Shitty music getting popular is nothing new, nor is it an adequate reason to outright attack a group of artists just trying to make their way in the world. Our culture reveres the mediocre, and AAS is not the first or the last affront to talent and taste to work its way into the public eye. There will always be the Nikki Minaj and Justin Bieber faction of the music industry, just as there will always be those who subscribe to their particular flavour of corporately produced fecal matter. That’s fine. I’ve made my peace with their existence. At least they’re content to stay caged within their respective realm, where their vapid, shameful contributions to musical history will remain quarantined safely beneath the banner of pop music, a genre that has long since been written off as intentionally empty.
Here’s a minute and forty seconds of intentional emptiness and sweet lasers. My sincerest apologies.
The problem here is that Abandon All Ships, and all their slimy, cologne soaked ilk, are marketed as metal. Throw whatever suffix or prefix you like onto that word, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s an ironhanded slap in the giblets to anyone who has an iota of respect or pride in what this musical movement represents. To call what they do metal is to relentlessly flick at the testicles of everything metal has achieved throughout its evolution. They are to metal what creationism is to the scientific method. You might say “Whoa, Leviathan, easy there. You’re really fucking angry about this, huh? Are you off your meds again? Who cares what they call themselves, there’s still good music out there. Just focus on that.”
Well, good point. Yes, there’s plenty of excellent heavy music being made out there, much of which was born and bred on the same streets that these overblown stereotypes call home, but how many of those bands do you see signing record deals? How much commercial success do the real musicians achieve? For every Protest The Hero that breaks the surface and earns the praise they garner, there are a thousand of these entitled little shits walking around like they own our scene, misrepresenting the genre we’ve supported and nurtured for lo these many years.
”Dude, bud, bro. Metal” Not pictured: Sleeves.
That’s my problem with Abandon All Ships, and every sound-alike they have spawned through their undeserved rise to popularity. They’re besmirching the good name of our beloved movement. Metal is ours, damn it, and these little offshoots and sub-genres attached to it are an unchecked growth hanging off of the beautifully rugged face we’ve all come to identify with. I for one won’t stand for it.
I give you my word as a cynic and an asshole that any time anyone dares to step on the hallowed ground that legends and gods once tread upon with intentions of bringing down the curve, I’ll be there.
Any time anyone values their look over their sound, I’ll be there.
Whenever someone thinks that they can throw auto-tune and gino-beats into something being sold as heavy music, I’ll be there, baring teeth and out for blood.
This is my solemn and eternal vow, because for better or worse, metal is ours, and we must vigilantly and ruthlessly protect it.