Free Single Review: Art Of Dying, “Die Trying”

This feature is an idea that I’ve been meaning to try for a while and never really got around to doing. I guess that’s what happens when you take a year off from blogging to look for jobs, but whatever.

Every week, as I’m sure anyone with a computer probably knows, iTunes offers its users a new single from up-and-coming artists completely free of charge. This is a nifty idea that could be used to introduce some truly groundbreaking and exciting artists to a wider audience at no cost to that audience so they don’t have to complain about wasting their hard-earned $1.29 on a song they didn’t like.

Unfortunately they tend to use this promotion on pop-country singers, MTV-friendly rappers, quirky indie-pop (the kind you typically hear in Apple commercials, fittingly enough) and radio-friendly rock bands that don’t sound any different from anything already on MTV or the radio. Sometimes they might offer something genuinely cool, but these are the exceptions… not the rule.

My idea for this feature is to listen to these songs and simply offer my opinion. This week’s single is “Die Trying” by Art Of Dying, and the review is after the jump.

Art Of Dying, as described by iTunes, is a Canadian hard rock quintet sporting a “thunderous wave of guitars” with “buoyant melodies and optimistic lyrics.” I kind of like the not-so-subtle little jab the writer tossed in there about how the band’s guitar work “may be typical of countless hard-rock bands,” though. Because that’s pretty much my opinion of this song – there are tons of bands all over rock radio right now that sound exactly like these guys.

“Die Trying” can be found on Art Of Dying’s new album Vices and Virtues, which most certainly is not to be confused with that Panic! At The Disco album of the exact same name that also comes out this week. It’s pretty much your typical radio-friendly mainstream hard rock offering – power chord riffs played at power-ballad tempos, lots of chugging, sing-along choruses that are practically tailor-made for arenas, and no soloing. There are places where the lead guitar sounds like it’s on the brink of doing something flashy, but it never goes there. And the drummer tries to spice things up a bit with some tribal thumping, but ten seconds into this song the pattern he plays almost had me expecting David Draiman to burst in with a healthy OO-WAH-AH-AH-AH!

Lyrically, Art Of Dying prefers to mix the usual post-grunge angst with the power of positive thinking. It’s funny – with a name like Art Of Dying and a song title like “Die Trying,” you might expect them to take this down a somewhat darker path. Instead this song is more about regretting having screwed up, wondering if you’re destined to keep screwing up, but deciding to soldier on and try to better yourself anyway. It’s standard-issue “inspirational” stuff, but I guess I’d rather have that than Chad Kroeger yelling about getting a blowjob while he’s driving. There aren’t really any especially painful lines in this song either – “I’m digging a hole to bury my soul” is as bad as this gets. It’s pretty melodramatic, but it’s minor-league melodrama compared to the 2011 World Series champion of melodrama that is “You’re gonna catch a cold from the ice inside your soul” in Christina Perri’s “Jar Of Hearts.”

If you already listen to bands like Shinedown, Breaking Benjamin, Seether, Chevelle, or Three Days Grace, Art Of Dying is probably right up your alley. But here’s the thing – if you like those bands and you have their albums in your collection, you’ve probably already heard this song a thousand times before. So do you give this band a shot or do you save your twelve bucks and just give an old Seether album another spin? Well, I guess that depends on just how much you’re craving some more of this style of music. If the wait for the next album by any of those bands I just mentioned is getting unbearable, these guys are perfectly capable of filling that void for you.

And in fact, while I’m on the subject of Seether, guess who contributed guest vocals to the original recording of “Die Trying”? None other than Shaun Morgan, lead singer of Seether, that’s who. As if the two bands didn’t sound similar enough already.

FINAL VERDICT

Not terrible, but it doesn’t really distinguish itself from anything else on the radio or in this genre in any way. Only download if you’re a diehard fan of mainstream hard rock.

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