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ATP! Album Review: Issues - Black Diamonds EP

It’s been a long time coming for Woe, Is Me alumnus Tyler Carter and Mike Bohn. Each has departed the “Rise”-core group within the same year, an action that left fans desperate for answers and new music. In order to fulfill the fans’ demands for the former, Carter and Bohn formed a new band, Issues. The band’s main aphorism, “You have issues. We’re all black diamonds in the rough,” not only incorporates their namesake but also the label given to their debut EP. "Black Diamonds" was released last week via Rise/Velocity Records, and certainly lives up to the praise it has been given since its recording.

Issues opens "Black Diamonds" with its title track, whose calm yet suspenseful intro surprisingly takes a drastic turn to the dubstep side of things. There is no doubt that this track could easily go down well in a club - a mission Issues set out and achieved quite nicely. 'Black Diamonds' (featuring Scout) easily fades into 'King of Amarillo', the most Woe, Is Me-like track off the record and also Issues’ debut single. Featuring Bohn’s iconic screams and growls and Carter’s sweet melodic tenor - a combination that attracted longtime listeners in the first place - this track will undoubtably sit well with Carter and Bohn's die-hard fans. In addition, 'King of Amarillo' spotlights a sly dig at the members’ former group (“If you don’t like these lyrics/Then go listen to Genesi[s]”), but that's the first and last quip.

Next up are the two poppier songs on the record, 'The Worst of Them' followed by 'Princeton Ave'. The former shows off Carter’s soul-influenced vocal style which challenges the heavier and more aggressive guitar work, a technique that transforms this incredibly catchy track into a true Issues tune. 'Princeton Ave' begins with a toned-down piano intro accompanied by Bohn’s vocals (“It’s time for a change/This generation needs a hero”) then quickly transitions into Carter rocking out a similar vocal style from the previous track. The song also features one of those famous “Rise”-core break downs that fans following Carter and Bohn in years past will thoroughly approve of. 'Love Sex Riot' (featuring Fronz) combines the club feeling the title track invokes with Carter and Bohn’s penchant for “Rise”-core anthems, also adding a very Linkin Park-inspired intro into the mix. The concluding track off the EP, 'Her Monologue', can be combined into two parts: the first being a culmination of everything the listener has heard from Issues in the previous seventeen minutes, the second featuring Carter performing in this sort of calm, whispered rap segment (quite possibly a prologue to a solo EP?).

In less than six months, Issues not only announced their inception but also began a tour and released music. The diversity of "Black Diamonds" as well as its rapid release shows that Issues intend on placing their mark on the alternative music scene in the coming months.

4/5

Melissa Jones

"Black Diamonds" is out now through Rise/Velocity Records.