Those of you with no tolerance for clean singing and catchy melodies in modern metal are advised to steer clear of STRAIGHT LINE STITCH's "When Skies Wash Ashore". Everyone else should find the deft balance of metalcore aggression and scintillating melodies, featuring the sweet croon and savage growl of the lovely Alexis Brown, to add up to one of the better efforts within the commercially viable realm of modern metal. Be forewarned, your "brootal street cred" may be damaged by professing a love for "When Skies Wash Ashore".
The last few years it seems that for every solid commercial metal outing that combines aggression with melody and clean singing, there are 10 mundane pieces of rubbish. "When Skies Wash Ashore" falls in the former category and not because it is some new fangled form of metal or devoid of a predictable formula. It's just that the formula works pretty darn well and the band manages to rock the fuck out and leave you humming the choruses. The metalcore parts hit hard and the melodic sections soar high above the clouds, not unlike the work of IN THIS MOMENT.
Though the growl 'n' croon formula has been done to death, STRAIGHT LINE STITCH manages to keep things fresh with songwriting that varies from track to track, regardless of the fact that you know the big, clean chorus is heading your way. And when it does, Brown belts out some seriously infectious patterns; the lady can flat-out sing her ass off, making the hooks on songs such as "Taste of Ashes" (featuring HATEBREED's Jamey Jasta), "Eucharist", and "Black Veil" that much bigger. Special attention should be paid to "What You Can Do To Me" for its righteous groove and vocal pattern on the chorus. The album closes with a lilting acoustic ballad called "Yesterday's Gone", not to be confused with LYNYRD SKYNYRD's "Tuesday's Gone", although I suppose yesterday could be Tuesday.
"When Skies Wash Ashore" is not an album for the ages and won't appeal to those with a distaste for commercial metal. It is, however, one that kicks a respectable amount of ass and leaves those grand choruses bouncing around the inside of your skull.