60th CYCLE – Quarter Life Crisis
Written by John Payne
Judging solely by 60th Cycle’s shout-outs to God in their liner notes and song titles such as “Believer,” “Simple Sacrifice” and “Altruistic”, it’s tempting to make the initial assumption before hearing the album that they might sound kind of like, um, Creed. Though you hate yourself for guessing an album’s sound based on its exterior, in this case that assumption proves to be mostly true.
First things first; 60th Cycle is much better than Creed and Ryan Cass is a vastly superior singer to Scott Stapp, although the production and songwriting create some glaring similarities. Virtually every song on Quarter Life Crisis follows the soft verse, loud chorus template with bridges and guitar solos inserted into predictable places. The same guitar tones are used on nearly every song. Having songs that all follow the same basic formula isn’t necessarily a problem unless the album is almost seventy-five minutes long. It feels more like two albums.
The good news is that the loud choruses generally kick ass. Part of this has to do with the fact that Cass’ vocals – powerful by any standard – sound overwrought during the light, arpeggio filled choruses, during which Cass and company get rid of the Creed sound and search for inspiration from, shall we say, cooler bands. Metallica, Soundgarden and Tool all get sonic props and Cass is clearly familiar with the work of Led Zeppelin. Plenty of cool non-riff moments can be found as well, including the trippy guitar solo on “Altruistic” or the funky bass grooves during the later part of “Face of Disgrace.” These guys are clearly most at home rocking out and can do it with either a killer, straightforward groove, or with intricate, time signature-shifting technical passages.
All of this makes you wish they’d just do a song that was straight riff-rock from front to back. “Simple Sacrifice” comes the closest, but it still quiets down quite a bit during the verses, coming up short of being the awesome full-on metal slab of which these boys are clearly capable (except for the riff at the end, that pretty much makes up for everything). As for the song that’s soft all the way through, “Maybe,” well…it’s not very exciting – let’s just leave it at that.
Quarter Life Crisis is definitely something you should check out if you want to get the most music for your buck and you’re in the mood to hear something familiar. At the top of its game, it’s hard rock par excellence. Unfortunately, it’s not at the top the entire time. Though given the album’s excessive length, it probably could’ve been.