Label: Tooth & Nail Records
Released: February 5, 2008
There Came a Lion is an entirely listenable album, but it is almost completely indiscernible from hundreds of other emo records. Sure, it’s well played and the songs are nearly perfect fits for the formula, but Ivoryline is really just a modern Foreigner, flawlessly executing the script and doing nothing to make it their own.
Ivoryline’s skills are top-notch. The rhythms are crisp and sharp beneath churning guitar and melodic leads. The harmonizing between parts is pristine. Unfortunately, the price for technical perfection in this case is creativity and heart. “We Both Know” is just a stones throw from AOR. While it has elements of the Descendants’ mix of technical and pop punk, its heart is not that of the Descendants, but that of commercial rock. Likewise, “Hearts and Minds” has more in common with late 80s power ballads than it does with Rites of Spring. It tries to show emotion, but it’s paper thin and that’s really the problem with most of the album. The music is trying to convey passion. The vocals are trying to sound emotional. Instead, both come off like techniques from a book rather than an attachment to real feelings. “The Last Words” is, at least, a refreshing ending. It’s use of strings may be entirely clichéd at this point, but it brings an organic sense that the album lacks everywhere else.
Ivoryline can’t be fully blamed for their faults though. Emo is a genre that has for some time been drifting further away from the trait which gave the genre its name and moving into the realm of cold, hard execution. In the current state of emo affairs, Ivoryline fits right in. They excel even. The trouble is that they excel at something that has become a shell of its former self. Ivoryline has played it entirely safe, putting style over substance. They list five sponsors on their Myspace page, but only one is music-related. The others are clothing companies. Does this convict Ivoryline of crimes against rock on its own? Of course not. The ties between music and fashion are long established. It is another piece of evidence that appearance is what this band is about though. Don’t scratch the surface too hard, because it’s just skin deep…and it’s a shame, because it could be so much more.
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