There’s something about wearing your influences on your sleeve. I was in a band once. I remember writing songs and saying things like, “We’ll have a Meshuggah riff here, and then a Dillinger riff there.” This type of writing is given a pass in heavy music — sometimes even celebrated. But in the case of The Overseer’s new album, Rest and Let Go, influences are taken too far.
Let me be incredibly blunt: The Overseer really, really likes Thrice.
From the very first notes of Rest and Let Go, the Thrice influence is laid on thick. Not just guitar riffs — drum patterns, vocal stylings and even guitar tone. Multiple times throughout listening to this album — the chorus of “Fragile Wings,” the verses of “The Structure / The Foundation,” all of “Scarlet Wool,” I could go on and on — I found myself wondering if I wasn’t hearing a previously unreleased Thrice album recorded sometime between Vheissu and The Alchemy Index.
Especially irksome is the verse introduction and subsequent chorus riff in “Scarlet Wool,” which is almost note-for-note, sound-for-sound the same track as the second verse in Thrice’s “Between the End and Where We Lie.” I haven’t heard such blatant sonic plagiarism since He Is Legend ripped the Deftones in the verses of “Mushroom River.”
And it’s not just Thrice. Late-era Underoath and Norma Jean, as well as O’Brother are taken to task on the rest of the album. Again — influences are influences and I don’t mind a band touting them as such, but this is just too much.
All that being said, Rest and Let Go is not a bad album by any means; I enjoyed a lot of it. “Uproot” is by far the best track on the album — it’s layered, dark and incredibly heavy. Songs like “Deluded,” “Death March” and “Depraved” start treading depression-rock territory, the ’90s-nostalgic nu-grunge sound that’s being popularized by bands like Balance and Composure and Daylight.
The Overseer show they are more than capable of pulling off and integrating that sound, and this is the one area of the album that really left me wanting more. The last two minutes of the album are a great ending, with the back-and-forth chanting of lyrics that are both uplifting and realistic (“Everyone’s loved, but nobody’s lovely,” among other statements), followed by rhythmic, angular guitar and drums
Rest and Let Go sounds great. The production is thick and clear with a gravelly edge that really benefits the wall-of-guitar sound. Layered passages are tasteful, never feeling over-produced and drums and vocals both sound polished but natural. The sound is heavy and expansive, but not too heavy as to alienate the fans who might not be looking to be bludgeoned for a half hour.
At the end of the day, The Overseer have written a decent album that had the potential to be great, but was held back by being almost completely unoriginal. If I wanted to listen to Thrice, I’d listen to Thrice. On the next The Overseer album, I’d like to see The Overseer take the ideas they had on Rest and Let Go and really apply themselves and write something truly new and interesting — and I know they are perfectly capable.