There is an interesting dilemma I am confronted with more often than I expected as a music critic. How do you respond to an album that is impeccably produced and features talented musicians playing very well, yet is painfully cookie-cutter, brings little to the table in terms of originality, and is generally cringeworthy and boring?
My answer so far has been to split it down the middle and give it a 5 and recommending to stay away from it.
Enter Saintvicious, the eponymous debut album from Saskatoon, SK rockers Saintvicious, released independently on November 29, 2019. In short, this is a musically killer and technically near-perfect record with super-cringey lyrics and almost no thematic or artistic appeal. This band is basically a harder version of Nickelback or a lite-beer version of Avenged Sevenfold, with the occasional growled vocal passage to please casual metalheads. The band is tight and Madison Erhardt is a compelling vocalist, but I found nothing to sink my teeth into artistically. This really is commercial rock at its most unashamedly, well, commercial!
Let me break it down for you.
Madison Erhardt can do the classic hard rock sandpaper vocal, the soaring high clean vocal and the metal growl, all pretty damn close to perfectly. Guitarists Ryan Kimmerly and Robyn Dolezsar hold their own with great solos and the most boring tone on Earth – more on that later. The rhythm section is appropriately in the pocket, displaying impressive chops and just the right amount of restraint to let the others shine. The drums sound just right, and cuth through the mix in just the right places.
Speaking of which, the production, mixing and mastering work is top-notch. I have no technical complaints about the sound quality of this record.
I heard guitar tones like these all through the 2000s and 2010s; it’s just not original or captivating for a band to sound like Avenged Sevenfold any more. The same goes for every single metal passage on this record. The band and vocalist seem to use every stereotypical hardcore and hard rock melody and rhythmic structure that we’ve all heard before.
Perhaps most bothersome of all was the fact that I had to listen to this band’s lyrics multiple times over. With lyrics this cheesy, cringeworthy, and ridiculous, I find it difficult to relate to an album. Some personal non-favourites include the gang vocal “We’re here! It’s lit!” in “Come & Get Some,” and the painfully cheesy passage “Take me to Heaven / That you create / With your smile” in the chorus of “Take Me There”… you get the idea.
If you’re musically awake enough, you likely won’t find much to enjoy here, unless you’re into this niche of commercial rock. There is also some appeal here for the casual music fan who just doesn’t know better.
Written by Henri Brillon
*edited by Danielle Kenedy