Scar'd Sanity is the type of band no one should take seriously. Ridiculous spelling? We've got a Shakespeare in the house, though at least they didn't go with "Skar'd" instead. Faux-metal riffing? Check. Overdramatic lyrics? The singer is "screaming on the inside." Dead-serious band photo? Sure, though their "rock star" faces actually look kinda cute.
The guitars never stand out, but they never get in the way, either. Singer Mike Prince lets out a decent shriek every now and then, but there's hardly a song here that would seem out of place on the average pop/rock station.
Yet there's something worthwhile about ...A Way to Hide, something special that takes listeners back to a time all this would have made sense. Maybe high school - when processed-to-all-hell vocals don't make an artist sound any less authentic, and when all forms of "authority" are worth screaming all emo-style over.
No matter how anyone tries to rationalize it, the pre-chorus and chorus to "Bleed" are freaking unstoppable. Call the vocals fake. Call the musicianship lacking. Call the whole production generic. But then try to get it out of your head. Same for the very next song, "Hard to Breathe."
It's the kind of music you hate yourself for loving. But you love it nonetheless, head bobbing as "Why Do You Feel" comes on. The pangs of guilt recede after the third listen or so.
"Stop to Pretend" has a vaguely optimistic feel; "Suffocate Me" is about as menacing as a band like this can get, at least until the lovey-dovey change and catchy, intense chorus. The acoustic "Reflections" even sounds sincere.
The record's masterpiece, if it can be called that, is "I Remember." It's a rocking ballad that smacks alternately of Deftones and The Police - the moody verses blossom into triumphal choruses with high school dance lyrics: "I remember the time we used to spend / When nothing was ever wrong or right 'cause we were both held innocent."
There are a few duds on ...A Way to Hide, instances where the glossy sheen can't cover up weak songwriting. "Brand New Day" starts with a promising pop-punk energy but goes nowhere fast. "Fear Fight" never quite catches on with listeners, with ridiculous lyrics about monsters in closets. Closing track "Window Pain," besides its eye-rolling title, lacks a single worthwhile hook.
In the end, though, the record is a success. It's fun, a trip down memory lane whether it's been five years or 20 since you were 16. If you are 16, it might serve as a good introduction to hard rock music. And it's executed well enough that, even to the most cynical listener, the glaring flaws don't seem all that bad.
Robert VerBruggen (http://robertsrationale.blogspot.com) is an apprentice editor at The National Interest and an antiMusic contributor.