Album Review :
Not Without Aim - 2011 EP

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Band: Not Without Aim
Title: 2011 EP
Label: None
Release Date: June 17th, 2011
Reviewer: David M

Track Listing:

  1. Guillotine (Intro)
  2. Wisdom Teeth
  3. Your Worst Life Now
  4. If I Had a Tattoo Would You Take Me Seriously?
  5. Hirudo
  6. Why Is That Angel On A Pogo Stick?

When I first received an email from Not Without Aim, I knew they sounded familiar, considering I randomly browse Facebook for new bands, and as I went to their Facebook, I recognized their song, “Why is that Angel on a Pogo Stick,” and hesitated. The first review I had here was These Hearts, and once again, while some people enjoyed the album, I definitely didn’t, and I was scared I’d have to write another bad review, so I put it off for a little bit. Sorry guys, just being honest.

I enjoy so many different styles of music, so it’s not a matter of taste. Whether it’s Decapitated or Josh Garrels (still can’t get enough), music is music to me. Some bands just don’t know how to write good songs, though, and that’s when I get a bit more picky. However, after giving this EP more of a listen, I’ve found that even though it seem like I’m setting this up for a severe grilling, I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. Is it the best release I’ve heard all year? Far from it. Sleeping Giant, My Epic, and Hands hold that title so far, followed by the Famine and Thursday. But it’s worth listening to, and there’s glimmers of hope for the future here and there.

In all truthfulness, this EP would’ve done better without “Guillotine,” whether that be a different intro or no intro at all. What you find is uninspired chugging, fairly boring bass drum rhythms, and a very predictable “Eurgghhhhhhhh” from the vocal department, followed by a little bit of a progression guitar wise (I wouldn’t consider it a lead, but it’s better than chugging) that goes back into the lifeless breakdown. I understand the importance of an intro, but when I have bands like Becoming the Archetype who write incredible intros with each album they release, or Mirror of Dead Faces’s “the Beginning of Sorrows” that starts off their album with a bang, it’s hard to go back to the tried-and-not-always-true “chug chug” intro track.

However, once you make it past “Guillotine,” you find a bit more life in “Wisdom Teeth.” True, it sounds too much like For Today meets the Devil Wears Prada for my taste, but it is light-years past “Guillotine.” Once that comparison leaves, and the song begins, you start to hear Not Without Aim’s potential, as some of the song writing reminds me a lot of when Still Remains and As I Lay Dying were still being cited as major influences: melo-death aspects that In Flames and At the Gates helped popularize, but the inclusion of breakdowns.

Not Without Aim’s potential definitely shines the most with “If I Had a Tattoo…,” as I feel like this is the best song out of the bunch, whether it’s the vocal consistency or the actual song writing. It’s nothing to write home over, but I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it, and the same can be said about the following track, “Hirudo.” Nothing break-taking, but for a band that has only been playing shows for a year, it’s not too shabby.

What interested me about this EP left shortly once “Why Is That Angel On a Pogo Stick” started. The song writing felt a lot more lazy and dull compared to the others, and it was a disappointment, because with the way the EP was progressing, I was hoping to hear more of a solid ending. It’s not an awful song, but it felt like after they took the several steps forward after “Guillotine” and “Wisdom Teeth,” they decided to turn around and write one of the most uncreative breakdowns I’ve probably heard in my music-listening career.

Edit: Once I had written the review, I found out track six, while included in the Noisetrade download, isn’t apparently on the EP, so I have adjusted the review score as appropriate. That being said, I’m not going to take it out of the review, because I was never sent an actual release, so I went with what I could find. I also didn’t realize we hosted the release for free, so that will be provided at the end.

The things I’d personally like to see happen with this band is see them improve with their musicianship, whether it be the overall songwriting, lyrics, or even the execution. Guitar wise, there were several parts where the guitars weren’t always lined up when you could tell the parts were meant to be synchronized, and the vocal consistency wasn’t always present, either. In the sense of lyrics, they were definitely faith-driven, which I’m all for, but I felt like the creativity and deliverance left much to be desired. I’d love to hear more variety in the vocal patterns and see the lyric-writing taken up to another level, in the sense of creativity and topics that are being handled. Also, it would be awesome to see more breakdowns that actually fit the flow of the song more and explored the fretboard, rather than breaking from riffage to mindless chugging. Lastly, better recordings will help you as a band, because not only will the actual song sound better, but you will find more errors when you are recording and it’ll be harder to settle for “eh, that take was okay.” It’s a double-edged sword when it comes to recording in that sense, but I hear the potential you have, and I’d love to see that.

Overall: Not Without Aim’s 2011 EP isn’t the worst album I’ve heard, but with all of the releases that have come out this year, even independently, it doesn’t have enough to set itself apart to keep me hooked. I’ll be keeping my eye on them, and if you’re into this kind of music, it’s worth a listen. I understand this band is young and still has plenty of room to grow, so that’s why I’m not judging it as harshly as I would if they had been together for several years and this wasn’t their first release. They’ve gained themselves a fan, but more out of curiosity to see what the future brings. Don’t let me down.

Download the EP here: