The busy and melodic leads of metal aren’t so much a novelty to punk rock as a trope. Newly christened, perhaps, but a trope the same. Technical guitar riffs aren’t the exciting game changer they once were, which means we’re back to judging songwriting. The Fear‘s Here Goes Nothing suggests a free fall into the punk scene, a freewheeling adherence to fate– but more than anything it suggests a shot in the dark. It seems appropriate then that Here Goes Nothing is subject to the laws of hit-and-miss.
The Fear play a technical style of skate punk that melds the fretwork of heavy metal with the speed of punk rock. Instrumentally, the album is competently played and the vocals are perfectly acceptable. But after more listens than I can count, I still don’t like this record. Without a doubt, The Fear can play their instruments. They have a decent sense of melody, or at least a decent capability of it, but I’m still hard pressed to remember the tune to a single song that appears on Here Goes Nothing. This album doesn’t make me feel anything but apathy.
“There Lie Better Days Ahead” is the album’s first track, opening with a motorcycle rumble that makes me think of Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out Of Hell,” before transitioning into a frankly promising guitar lead. Musically, the song has little punk influence except for the vocal melody, which seems to be in the spirit of Bad Religion and other similar acts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not counting the lack of punk rock as a negative on this track– punk thrives when it becomes an unrecognizable amalgamation of different musical styles. But this doesn’t take it far enough. “There Lie Better Days Ahead” sounds more like eighties era pop-metal theatrics with skate punk vocals. The track’s tempo is the only thing grounding it. “The Bitter Taste” is the closest thing on the album to a good song, but it’s chorus of “tell me something I don’t know” makes me feel some sort of melodic deja vu, I can’t say for sure whether I’ve heard the tune before, but it’s familiarity ultimately hurts the song.
Heavy metal has a rich and storied history of diverse music practically begging to be re-appropriated and subverted. The style works, time has proven heavy metal and punk can be a beautiful union, but it takes a certain level of commitment. Writing fast songs with solos and squeals aren’t enough, you’ve got to embrace a little more than the cold hard notation. Metal at its best can be a campy excursion into excess and machismo, but here it’s only a vehicle to deliver boring skate punk songs. If you’re a die-hard fan of the genre, this might be something you can get down with, but with so many other good releases this year, Here Goes Nothing feels less like music and more like a chore.