ISSUES - HEADSPACE
3.5FINAL SCORE

It’s been over two years since Issues released their self-titled debut, coming after much demand following their Black Diamonds EP in 2012, and sticking to their two year tradition, Issues set a date to release their newest effort on May 24th. About time too. With a relentless touring schedule under their belts, fans were growing tired of the same setlist being played (and we’re sure the band were too). Now, there are finally some new tracks to rave about, so just in case you forgot about that little R&B infused metalcore outfit Issues, you better get a clue because this new album is definitely something worth remembering them for.

Despite the band no longer touring with their resident producer and DJ, it’s easy to tell the album has been given plenty of TLC from Ty ‘Scout’ Acord, who left the band in 2015. He still plays an integral role on the album and his signature spins can be heard in the likes of ‘Flojo’. There are a lot of new sounds on this album that the band have experimented with, hints of country, rap, and laces of pop come through in bounds. But with every risk, there seems to be a safe option to back it up. The aforementioned ‘Flojo’, ‘Coma’ and ‘Home Soon’ all sound like they could have been tracks on the self-titled effort, sounding more like the fan-pleasers of the collection. However, in true Issues fashion, every song has a hook perfect for resounding sing-alongs in a live setting – or in the comfort of your own bedroom.

Retreating back to the roots of the two lead vocalists Tyler Carter and Michael Bohn, the country influences of ‘Yung & Dum’ are evident. There are lashings of country flavour from featured vocalist Jon Langston and from the hearty sound of violins throughout. Laying this under the anthemic chorus does help to paint a picture of a country family, gathered in a barn for a sing-along. At face value the track does offer a relatable message which makes it a standout track for listeners. Following the pattern of offering something a little different, ‘Made To Last’ introduces Bohn’s newfound vocal abilities. Having only learned to sing for this album, he takes a break from his effervescent screams to showcase how far he has come and it is to be commended.

‘Lost & Found’ is a little all over the place; the verses are incredibly fast-paced and are reminiscent of a pop punk song. It slows down to allow Carter the chance to display the extent of his vocal range as he reaches some astonishing highs, and this teamed with the introduction of Bohn’s evolution as a vocalist and the chorus of voices toward the end of the track adds unbelievable texture to their solid sound and shows that that Issues have something special that no other metalcore outfit has or could ever replicate.

Perhaps one of the biggest standouts of the album is the gut-busting ‘Blue Wall’. With its heavy-hitting bass line from Sky Acord and Carter taking on a darker tone with his vocals, the lyrics to tell the morbid but unfortunately true story of innocent people dying at the hands of those who are supposed to protect them. The eerie melodies from A.J Rebollo’s guitar and added effects of police sirens throughout hones in on the reality of police brutality. Though there is one section of the song that seems to be a clone of the intro to ‘Stingray Affliction’, noticing this doesn’t detract from the message in any way.

If there’s anything that Issues do impeccably it’s portraying a message, much as with Blue Wall, ‘Someone Who Does’ is angry in its implication of absent fathers and is the reality for many listeners across the world. Some lyrics really hit home including: “I’ve had so much so much I could say to you, but you’ll never get the chance to know me.” and the punchy; “I hope your new life was worth the sacrifice, you don’t care about us.

Overall, with (head)banging anthems and thought-provoking lyrics, it’s easy to look past the few tracks that give an unmistakeable likeness of their self-titled and see’s Headspace make for a respectable follow up to their debut. Issues are well and truly back and this time they are making sure they won’t ever be forgotten.