While certainly originating from a genre plenty over saturated, if there ever was a more charismatic metalcore front-man of the last decade, The Plot In You’s Landon Tewers would undoubtedly be an easy contender. Receiving abundant praise for 2015 release, Happiness In Self Destruction, the group’s versatility and style has resulted in an ever-increasingly strong following, with Tewers’ notably drawing much of the attention through ferocious vocal performances, and heavily cathartic choices of lyrical content – the most notable of which likely being ‘Take Me Away’, dedicated to the passing of Tewers grandfather. Expanding horizons even further, Tewers’ 2016 debut solo effort, Dynamite, offered a far more blues-induced approach, relying on cleaner, acoustic elements for much of the record. While not the most well-known release, the album allowed Tewers the opportunity to branch into newer territory, before returning to The Plot In You to assist in the production of a much anticipated fourth record, Dispose. Of course, just how much Dynamite would actually come to influence the band’s next release had remained to be seen.
Indeed, certainly from what showed throughout debut single, ‘Feel Nothing’, Dispose poses a stark contrast to The Plot In You‘s previously far heavier material, choosing instead to lean substantially on styles explored throughout Dynamite; the crushing distortion and guttural screams seen on the likes of ‘Hole In The Wall’ are largely replaced with far more melodic elements, cleaner vocal delivery alongside keys and gentle guitar-work often leading the track forward. Even when ‘Feel Nothing’ does finally breach the surface into heavier territory, Tewers screamed delivery of “it’s too late, too late. I’ve buried this and it’s evident” feels far more reserved, less aggressive compared to the snarling ‘Die Like Your Brothers’, “‘cus it’s a game to see which one of us will die first. It’s like a plague we’re caving in, we’ve got the same thirst.” If there was at all any doubt to The Plot In You‘s new direction, the record wastes no time to reaffirm things; instead of smashing forward with a growl and blistering drop tuned riffage, the introductory ‘Rigged’ instead takes plenty of time to build soothingly, soft delayed guitar leading into Tewers crooning away. The track does eventually explode into a huge climax of percussion and distortion, yet it’s significantly backed by far more symphonic elements, and strikingly theatrical synth-work is front and center.
Shifting away slightly from the impact of Dynamite, it’s also certainly worth noting the level of influence of modern rock artists that seems to have been scattered throughout the record; ‘Not Just Breathing’ and ‘One Last Time’ both offer some of Dispose‘s heaviest material, massive chorus’s and riffs leading the way, and yet both find themselves stylistically echoing recent Bring Me The Horizon Sempiternal and That’s The Spirit-era material, the latter notably having been criticized by some for sacrificing artistry for commercial accessibility. Alongside this, moments of the album also find themselves channeling the moody, delay infected guitar-work of Deftones‘ Stephen Carpenter, ‘Rigged’ and ‘Disposable Fix’ being particularly reminiscent of Koi No Yokan‘s ‘Rosemary’ and ‘Entombed’.
As for the vocal side of things, Landon Tewers‘ talents are certainly on full display, easily shifting back and forth between clean to scream delivery in what can be considered one of his most versatile performances on record, but it’s on moments such as the alt-rock flavored, ‘I Always Wanted To Leave’, that Tewers‘ range truly shines. The track drifts lazily, alongside lightly over driven guitar, and gentle arpeggios smothered in reverb while Tewers completely lets loose, sounding far more akin to the likes of 30 Seconds To Mars‘ Jared Leto. It’s this very same delivery that often pushes Dispose‘s continual stylistic deviation from the heavier material of old, such as the lighter, radio rock-esque ‘The One You Loved’, similar again to previous Tewers solo material, ‘The Stretching Girl’ in particular. Penultimate track, ‘The Sound’, sees the album at it’s absolute gentlest, Landon Tewers‘ soft, almost exasperated croons of “you feel it, eyes racing, my feet were buried in the ground. My chains break, I can’t take the sounds”, paired with a gorgeous saxophone solo that sweetly carries the second half of the track in wonderful melancholy.
Of course, with change will always come the possibility that not all comes to fruition. With The Plot In You‘s original style now largely abandoned for somewhere in between something old and something new, it’s easy to question exactly how worthwhile the results of such a deviation actually were. Sure, Dispose is likely everything Landon Tewers wanted it to be; it naturally follows the stylistic direction of Dynamite to some brilliant results, while successfully including newer elements along the way. And yet, there are certainly a few guiltier moments on the record that cannot help but frustrate; ‘Paid In Full’ and ‘One Last Time’ are both blatantly similar to material seen on Bring Me The Horizon‘s That’s The Spirit, and while That’s The Spirit serves as a relatively enjoyable, commercially accessible alternative/electronic rock record, it seems an absolute waste that these few uninspired tracks allow Dispose to drag so significantly, especially considering the level of far more interesting material already to be found throughout the album. That being said, Dispose still offers a strong step in the right direction for a band shedding the skin of old, and moving on to pastures new; ‘Rigged’, ‘I Always Wanted To Leave’, and ‘The One You Loved’ all serve as fine examples of the reincarnated metalcore group, and ultimately the few issues that do appear throughout the record are relatively easy to forget. What comes next, of course, remains to be seen.