There are only a handful of bands out there that I thoroughly enjoy listening to on my iPod regularly and checking out live whenever possible. Iwrestledabearonce is one of those bands. I’ve seen them live with both Krysta Cameron and Courtney LaPlante as the lead vocalist. Both women have loads of energy and a great stage presence. In the years the band has been together they have amassed a very dedicated fanbase who, for the most part, happily stuck by their side when Krysta left and Courtney joined.
IWABO’s last album, Late For Nothing, was a slight shift from the band’s previous releases. The band still maintained the silliness that fans have come to love and appreciate, but there was a noticeable change. With Hail Mary, the band has taken a few more steps in a different direction, though at times some of that old IWABO shines through. There are fans out there who have complained about the lack of the sound effects of “goofiness” that the band is famous for in this newest release. We shouldn’t look at the shift in sound as a negative change. The band is maturing, and with that development will come some inevitable growing pains. If fans can accept Bring Me The Horizon’s dramatic genre-jumping changes, then I think we can handle a little less wacky animal noises in IWABO’s albums.
Hail Mary launches at full speed with the first track, “Gift Of Death.” This song is our first introduction to the new IWABO. Though they do incorporate some electronic sound effects and there are undeniably IWABO-sounding chaotic guitar parts, it’s not the same as we’ve heard in previous releases. I personally like the new direction, and we’ll get to see more of it throughout the album. “Green Eyes” is one of the singles the band recently released a music video for. In this song, LaPlante does a little bit more singing, and quite frankly it sounds like a song you might have heard on Late For Nothing.
LaPlante and co stated in a recent interview with Blabbermouth that they intentionally set out to create a heavy album, and it’s safe to say that they succeeded. LaPlante on her own offers some great screaming vocals that easily rival her male counterparts, and with the inclusion of Eddie Hermida of Suicide Silence in the track “Erase It All” the band takes it up a notch. LaPlante is quickly becoming one of my favorite female vocalists in the alternative music scene.
“Doomed To Fail Pt. 2” is made up entirely of clean vocals. The lyrics are basically the same as “Doomed To Fail Pt. 1” – it’s just a reimagined version of the song. It’s a nice break in the middle of what’s an intense, chaotic album. I don’t think much harm would have been done if it wasn’t included though. The next track is “Killed To Death.” It’s one of the heaviest tracks on the entire album, but it still offers a little bit of that playfulness the band is famous for. It also happens to be my personal favorite song on Hail Mary. This is a song that really sets LaPlante apart from Cameron. They are finally starting to take themselves a little bit more seriously, and I believe that is something many of us can get behind.
“Carbon Copy” and “We All Float Down Here” are two additional tracks worth mentioning. IWABO have been known for years as a group who liked to make their sound a little “boxy,” and these tracks highlight that style. That style is especially noticeable in the closing track, which is “Your God Is Too Small.” It’s also one of the few tracks that showcase a large amount of verses sung with clean vocals. I feel that it is one of the weaker tracks overall, and I think the band would have been better off closing out the album with something a little bit stronger. It’s not a bad song though – I don’t believe any of the songs are bad. Some are more memorable than others, and there are more memorable moments than not.
In their eight years together, IWABO have raised the bar for female vocalists in the metal music scene. LaPlante is proof that a band can have a frontwoman who screams and be successful. There aren’t a lot of bands out there who fit that bill, and she should be a role model for any girls out there who want to sing in a band as well (regardless of the style they wish to pursue). With this release IWABO are finally starting to take themselves a little bit more seriously. LaPlante is separating herself from Cameron’s legacy by blazing her own path and is taking the rest of the band with her. While I do miss those quirky sound effects, it doesn’t diminish the fact that this band has put together a kick ass album. (Kriston McConnell)