May 26, 2010

Album Review: "Miracle" by Nonpoint

Since their debut album Statement hit stores in 2000, Nonpoint has been a veritable institution in the hard rock scene. However, they've been a small institution, never quite able to break into the mainstream and achieve huge success. Part of the reason for that might be because they were one of the last bands to jump on the nu-metal train, and while they've slowly evolved away from the much-maligned subgenre, their origins have held back their career in the long term. The only widespread success they've gained is with their cover of the Phil Collins classic "In the Air Tonight", which has shown up in commercials, movie soundtracks, and radio stations nationwide. However, through all of this, Nonpoint has persevered, never giving up on their music or their fiercely devoted fans. Their newest album, Miracle, completes their musical evolution into a full-fledged hard rock band with little to no trace of their nu-metal roots left.

Unlike its predecessor Vengeance, which suffered from a lack of direction while attempting to do too much, Miracle is driven by its songwriting and its precision. Every song has a very specific purpose and tone, creating an individual identity and distinguishing itself from the rest of the album. At the same time, the album overall has a very even flow from start to finish that enhances the listening experience and further establishes the purpose of each song. Additionally, the song structures are vastly improved by the instrumental consistency, with guitars no longer being relegated to just choruses and bridges as they have been on some older songs. These three improvements combine to make Miracle the best complete album in their discography from a compositional standpoint.

The flow of Miracle described earlier is a standard rising-falling wave pattern, with the album starting off relatively high in energy, cooling off, increasing again, dropping again, and finally returning back to the starting level. The title track features an excellent guest vocal spot from Mudvayne singer Chad Gray, who also produced the album. "Frontlines" and "What I've Become" are both lower-energy songs that nonetheless maintain a very strong presence, almost as if the power of the songs is being forcibly contained by the music. The cover of "5 Minutes Alone" by Pantera is not as good as "In the Air Tonight", but it's a respectable homage to the original and a well-performed song either way. "Dangerous Waters" is the closest that Nonpoint will ever get to either thrash or metalcore, making it the heaviest song on the album by far.

Miracle ranks as one of the best albums of Nonpoint's career because it offers musical maturity while retaining its authenticity. The slow evolution of Nonpoint is not a selling-out process, because very little has actually changed from one album to the next. Rather, this is a band finding their identity and creating the best possible sound that they can within their identity. And while Nonpoint may never attain the explosion of mainstream success that some of their contemporaries have, the band can still be incredibly proud of Miracle and what it represents to the band and their fans - finding the right course of musical inspiration.

Score: 7 out of 10

Track Listing

1. Shadow
2. Miracle
3. Crazy
4. Frontlines
5. Looking Away
6. Electricity
7. What You've Got for Me
8. Throwing Stones
9. 5 Minutes Alone
10. What I've Become
11. Dangerous Waters
12. Lucky #13

Album Personnel

Elias Soriano - Lead vocals
Zach Broderick - Guitar
Ken "KB" Charman - Bass guitar, backing vocals
Robb Rivera - Drums

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