Following in the footsteps of legendary talent is never an easy thing. It's a thankless task, one that ensures the person in question will spend an entire career failing to live up to the standard that was set before them. In that spirit, anyone who still decides to travel down the well-worn road should be commended for their courage, regardless of the end result of their efforts. For every Norah Jones, there are dozens who's careers are only notable for their name. Rise To Remain is the vehicle by which another musical offspring enters the fray, this time Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson's son Austin, who fronts the modern band, and suffers the inevitable comparisons with his father.
Rise To Remain cobbles together every trend of modern metal, blending them into a mix that is more palatable than many of their contemporaries. The screaming verses, soaring choruses, rapid-fire drums, and random breakdowns are all executed with aplomb. The band is clearly a talented group of musicians who simply may not have yet found an identity of their own. Listening to “City Of Vultures” is a familiar experience, not always in a good way. The influence of metalcore legends Killswitch Engage is slathered across all corners of the album, seeping into the very heart of the songs. That doesn't make them bad compositions, but it does lend an air of staleness to a band that is supposed to be the new kid on the block.
That being said, “City Of Vultures” is a well-crafted bit of modern metal. While reminiscent of many bands exploring the same style, Rise To Remain has a knack for songcraft that immediately makes them more interesting than bands like Trivium. The opening combo of “Serpent” and “This Day Is Mine” are fast paced stompers that are committed to being heavy through the verses, only to open up with ear-catching choruses that are more memorable than most metalcore bands can achieve. The formula is tweaked just enough on the title track, mixing true blast-beats with a structure that is more free-form, the chorus stripping the pop elements from the melody. It sounds like classic Killswitch Engage, and while it may not be as gratifying, it is an interesting experiment.
“Talking In Whispers” is a more melodic song, largely going without any of the harsher vocals styles that color the album. It's not a huge shift, but the little things are able to make the songs stand out from one another, giving the album a sense of depth. Guitarists Ben Tover and Will Homer are both solid players, navigating their riffs with precision. Unfortunately, they take the modern path of playing riffs that are often runs of notes that blend together into easily forgettable bursts of music. The riffs work in the context of the songs, but you won't find yourself with any of them stuck in your head hours later, humming them to yourself without knowing your brain has been invaded.
As for the issue that cannot be avoided, Austin Dickinson is not his father. He doesn't need to be considering the style of music Rise To Remain is offering, but judging his performance is impossible without thinking of his pedigree. His presence behind the mic is critical for the success of “City Of Vultures”, notably his harsh vocals. They are suitably gruff without falling into torturous screaming, a wise decision that keeps the music accessible. His clean singing is not as polished, his tone carrying a bit of the stereotypical emo whine. What he may lack in pure vocal power, he is able to make up for by selling the hooks. He makes the songs work, making Rise To Remain stand out from the countless other bands playing the same riffs.
“City Of Vultures” is the work of a band still finding their way, figuring out what their identity is going to be. Like many young bands, their influences are sometimes too apparent, certain songs sounding more like tributes than their own work. Still, they show great potential for future growth, and make “City Of Vultures” a great starting point. Not essential, but enjoyable.