Incubus are an alternative rock/metal band hailing from California. 8 is, oddly enough, their 8th LP, and their first since 2011’s If Not Now, When? The album sees co-writing and production credits from Sonny Moore, also known as the electronic/dubstep producer Skrillex. Incubus has been around since the early 90s, morphing through hard rock and pop rock styles and ending with an intriguing mix of the two with 8.
From beginning track, ‘No Fun’, what I immediately noticed was the stellar production. The drums in particular are perfectly mixed and thunder like gunshots throughout the mix, booming when the tracks go off, and remaining tight in the album’s more sombre moments. ‘No Fun’ features a very prominent and catchy guitar riff that dominates the track, a trend that continues throughout the rest of the album.
‘Loneliest’ sees the band going electronic, sounding like a mixture between late Linkin Park and Twenty-One Pilots. Synthetic drums peter along while synths and electronic keys flare during the chorus, and morose guitar noodling filters through in the background. Skrillex’s production come in more apparent with this track, although contrasts harshly with the preceding tracks heavier tone. It marks the center of the album, where the sound is at its poppiest and most pedestrian.
All the same, the album’s stellar guitar work and drum production shine through even here. For the rest of the album, Brandon Boyd’s vocal delivery does the lyrics justice, with energy and an impressive vocal range. The lyrics are a little less inspired, dealing with mostly with anger and sadness, although several tracks appear to focus on politics and ‘the man’.
Having not listened to a large body of Incubus’ previous work, it’s hard to gauge how 8 stacks up. On its own, however, it’s a mostly enjoyable hard rock album, with stellar production – the drums are just, seriously, so good – and killer riffs doing well to maintain enough interest for the 40 minute run-time. Newcomers to the band are sure to find enough to keep them coming back and perhaps exploring further. Die-hard fans may be turned off by the more electronic and pop elements, or Skrillex’s contributions, but there is something for everyone to enjoy on ‘8’.
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