Review: Alter the Design – Welcome to Our Nothingness

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Written by Elliot John Doe

Alter The Design is a five piece heavy yet melodic rock outfit hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, consisting of band members Justin Gaughn (Vocals), Amanda Blackwell (Drums), Corey Wile (Guitar/Production), Sean Lewis (Guitar) and Cody Tyler (Bass). Having shared the stage with billboard charting artists such as Trapt and Otherwise, the quintet dropped their first single ‘Drained’ last September shortly followed by their debut ‘Welcome to Our Nothingness’ in the November of 2016, so let’s delve into the band’s first offering!.

‘Blindsided’ is a solid opener full of catchy prog-esque riffing and big vocal hooks, complimentary drumming in all the right places helps everything soar in this song and the lead guitar adds that extra little something. Alter The Design describe themselves as Heavy yet Melodic and this first track is just that.

Followed by ‘Broken Road’, somewhat of a Nu-Metal feel going on here and executed very well. Once again pulling out those catchy and accessible vocals, groove laden guitars and some smart double kick drums round this number out and leave you eager for the next track.

The 5-piece’s debut single ‘Drained’ starts off with a head bobbing riff, shortly followed by some tribal like drumming then dropping some crunchy bass into the mix. A chorus that lifts the feel of the song with some great backing harmonies and a hair swinging break down, very formulaic throughout the whole track, still a solid song with that ever prominent smart drumming.

Slowing down the pace on ‘Hollowed Dream’ which contains the most heartfelt vocal performance so far on the release not to mention some great bass lines here too. Chunky guitars and simple sledgehammer hitting from behind the kit follow through like the album’s predecessors, only if this song could have gone on for a bit longer or perhaps not faded out so quickly.

Taking a surprising turn into an acoustic number with ‘Glittering Dust’ displaying a varied vocal range and some atmospheric background strings. Not too much going on here, stripped down to the core and really showing off raw emotion. Probably my least favourite track on this collection, still a good effort and I definitely appreciate a bad showing musical diversity.

‘True-Face’ brings everything back to form, a dark heavy riffing accented with double kick drums and droning leads, changing the tempos up and down makes for good grooves and catchiness. This track is completed by the breakdown and outro in my books layered with head banging jolts and screaming to delight the ears.

Rounding out the album we have the track ‘Nothingness’ which is quite possibly the biggest hook the band have in their arsenal so far, big grooves, catchy riffs & vocals, an amazing drive with the drumming and great bass work. Heavy and melodic, it’s what was promised and what has been delivered once again.

In all fairness this is a solid debut, probably more of an EP than an album but still a great first effort in showcasing what they can do and where they are headed, I would have liked a little more in a couple of tracks, but I couldn’t have asked for more hooks and groove laden riffage than I got. Not to mention some extremely smart, well placed drumming. Alter The Design are here and for what it’s worth, I think they are here to stay for quite a while. Keep up the great work guys!  7/10

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