Released August 14, 2012
Reviewed by Anthony Peronto
In the world of metal, changing your vocalist can either happen frequently (ex. Take It Back!, Close Your Eyes), just once (ex. Underoath, Norma Jean, Haste The Day), or not at all (ex. Living Sacrifice, TDWP, War of Ages). Letter to the Exiles is the rare case where the vocalist is replaced before their debut on a major label. And I have to admit Chris King does an admirable job on the well-produced Make Amends, which features a mixture of hardcore and metal that is similar to August Burns Red and The Ascendicate (anyone remember them?).
The first half is when the album shines, with the standout track “Conversations with Fallen Saints” which take cues from A Plea For Purging and War of Ages (with Leroy Hamp of WoA featured as a guest vocalist). The guitars are a strong presence throughout the album, most notable on “They Made Me the War Machine” and “Thieves.”
Unfortunately the middle section of the album is where everything go downhill starting with “A World of Wicked Men,” the slowest song on the record and while earnest is musically dull until the halfway mark when it turns into a song Hands could’ve made. After the filler track “The Violence of Our Kind”, the interlude “Transcendence” and the adequate “The Greater Hands of Lesser Sons” thankfully the soaring title track closes and redeems the album from its downward spiral.
The fourth debut album on Facedown Records this year (including Leaders, The Burial, and Altars) is a potentially satisfying record that has starts off strong but trails off by the end. While the melodic clean vocals are pleasing the strong similarities to August Burns Red make Letter to the Exiles’ sound not very groundbreaking. Hopefully by their sophomore album the band can tighten up their sound and improve their tracklist order. But I’m sure plenty of people, who can forgive comparisons in an over-saturated genre, will enjoy this admirable hardcore album.
- Open Graves
- Conversations With Fallen Saints ft. Leroy Hamp of War of Ages
- They Made Me the War Machine
- A World of Wicked Men
- The Violence of Our King
- The Greater Hands of Lesser Sons
- Make Amends