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Album Review

From a Second Story Window's first two Black Market/Metal Blade releases — the 2004 EP Not One Word Has Been Omitted and 2006's Delenda — favored a schizophrenic and generally vicious blend of math rock, hardcore, death metal, and noise rock. While those discs had their moments, they were uneven and inconsistent — and From a Second Story Window came across as a band whose members couldn't quite figure out exactly what they wanted to do. But Conversations, which is their second full-length album and third Black Market/Metal Blade release overall, is a major step forward for them creatively — and the ironic thing is that they accomplish that by dropping the math rock element and reinventing themselves as essentially a screamo band. That is ironic, because in the mid- to late 2000s, the market was absolutely inundated with a ton of faceless, pedestrian, totally forgettable screamo units; screamo burnout became a big problem for people who review CDs for metal and hardcore websites. So with a backlash against screamo having become inevitable, do From a Second Story Window really want to move in that direction? Absolutely. One shouldn't forget that some screamo bands have provided great albums (From Autumn to Ashes, for example), and this 2008 release is far superior to most of the screamo discs that came out in the late 2000s. Will Jackson's sensitive clean vocals are more believable, his extreme vocals (generally metalcore-hardcore screaming, with occasional death metal growls) are more convincing, the melodies are more memorable, and From a Second Story Window display a sense of songcraft that all of the cookie-cutter screamo discs simply lack. Conversations isn't quite in a class with From Autumn to Ashes' best work, but it is still an impressive reminder of the fact that when screamo is well done, it can be compelling. Yes, it is certainly ironic that a type of music that has been plagued by so many mediocre bands in the 21st century should be the very thing that pushed From a Second Story Window forward creatively and enabled them to deliver a CD that is undeniably stronger and much more focused than their previous recordings. Conversations is a shining example of screamo (or post-hardcore or melodic hardcore, if you prefer) done right.


Formed: 2002 in Warren, OH

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

In the self-penned biography on their website, From a Second Story Window describe their work by saying, "Simply put, we are trying to create music for attention-deficit people," and the group's tight, furious blend of math rock, hardcore, and death metal, dominated by precise, stop-on-a-dime shifts of tempo and melody, certainly sounds like the hard rock equivalent of Ritalin. Most of the members of From a Second Story Window hail from Warren, OH, a small town along the Ohio/Pennsylvania border...
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Conversations, From a Second Story Window
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