Killer Klassix: Alive In Standby; “Dream Status” EP

Alive in Standby takes the pain in stride, crafting an EP that is a balance of electronic pop, aggressive metalcore with a touch of sensual R&B that can be for your first time metalcore listener, or a long established fan.

Killer Klassix: Alive In Standby; Dream Status EP

Antonio Llanos, Staff Writer

Our environment affects the way our brain processes information. In a healthy environment, we thrive. However, in an unhealthy environment, we forget who we are. At times, whether it is an abusive friend or relationship, the work required to “think straight” is oftentimes a whole process. While time may heal wounds, I believe it makes those wounds deeper. That’s when pain can be transformed into art. In the case of Alive In Standby, its pain that drives the art, and catharsis that allows the art to flourish.

“Dream Status” EP was the debut EP from Progressive-Metalcore/Pop-Punk band, Alive In Standby. Released on Aug. 23, 2011, Alive In Standby experiments with an evolving Metalcore scene, fusing pop punk rhythms and electronic-pop influences in constant search of melodic nuance. They’ve not only taken conventional musical elements from the genre and re-invented them, the EP is also a vulnerably fueled, ambitious attempt to distinguish themselves from the emerging metalcore scene that holds up 12 years later.   

“Shady Shady” is a track influenced by pop culture’s vernacular, but grounded in a souring relationship. One of the melodic elements that allow the song to unfold is the dynamic established between vocalist/lyricist Christian Koo and guitarists Steve Everinck and Ben Wilkins with their back-and-forth crescendo and decrescendo-ing throughout the track and EP. Koo’s ability to emote with his voice and manipulate the tone and pitch emphasizing the lyrical material on the track. Koo’s first vocalization is pitched to express a moment of stress: “Breathing the melody of jealousy/And your sigh shows that the closer we are, the more colors fade/You’ve been such a lie, I liked you better that way/Is this the joy of growing?/Or the pain of growing apart?/You mean too much to me.” Not only is Koo’s performance vocally involved, but his writing is vulnerable, masterfully capturing a stream of consciousness that is used to relate to the listener, present in every vocal performance on every track.

“Load-In, Load-Out” leans into some of the more gritty, aspects of the genre. Both Wilkins and Everinck initiate the track with a cyclical, experimental spin on a common metal crescendo that is repeated until Koo’s entrance on the track. Though a bit heavier than the more melodic sides of the track, Koo’s vocal performance also builds into a chaotic bridge that explodes in a classic metalcore breakdown, roping the listener into a head-bang.  

“Whispers” is a soulful exploration and experimentation track. Leaning into more polyrhythmic aspects of the EP., Koo’s cathartic vocals put the track through as an amazing departure from the others on the EP. Where every track is chaotic and rhythmically in their own distinct direction back to the chorus, “Whispers” stands out using the aggression as not the focus, but the support for Koo’s vocal performance on the track, which takes on many different transitions within the track. Initially beginning in a very sullen-R&B style, progresses into a bouncy melodic pitch, then is revised to the aggression of the screaming vocals and then exhibits Koo’s ability to actually scream, ultimately exhibiting how musically aware the band is. 

“Direction” is a track about the places love takes us within ourselves. Composition essentially is the inversion of “Whispers,” but is focused on mirroring the inner turmoil when one believes they are in love. Lyrically and musically, the track cycles through the conventional chaotic guitars and motor-esque pounding rhythm of the drums, but cleanly transitions into each section of the song, bouncing between aggressive screaming vocals and Koo’s ever long melody.    

“The Safety In Sleep” is an absolute highlight of the EP. The composition of the track is tight and clean. Transitions are seamless, eliminating all unnecessary preemptive sound and focused on well crafted verses, intricate polyrhythms (both with and without the band). Koo’s lyrics are well catered to not only in the meticulously crafted synth programing, but also by the band as well. Lyrically the track has to do with finding serenity and momentarily denying the reality of our lives, blinding ourselves to the truth and finding happiness in the mess we are in.  

So whether we take our pain and turn it into good art, or not, we exhibit the scars nonetheless.  Alive in Standby takes the pain in stride, crafting an EP that is a balance of electronic pop, aggressive metalcore with a touch of sensual R&B that can be for your first time metalcore listener, or a long established fan.