Invidia (the brainchild of In This Moment’s Travis Johnson and former Skinlab guitarist Brian Jackson) aims to be the sonic version of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky, and makes no bones about it. The track ‘Step Up’ from their début As the Sun Sleeps (Steamhammer/Oblivion/SPV) spells this out quite literally, even lifting a line from the film that encompasses everything the band stands for: “It’s not about how hard you can hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”
Which is a good way for them to look at it, I suppose, because Invidia doesn’t hit very hard.
Johnson’s inexperience as a vocalist (he plays bass in In This Moment) certainly plays a part. At times, he attempts to channel Layne Staley in wordless, droning melodic passages, as heard in ‘Marching Dead’ and lead single ‘Feed the Fire’. At (many) others, Johnson cops an aggressive, staccato style that sounds apples to apples like Chad Gray (Mudvayne, Hellyeah). In other moments (see what I did there?), he sounds quite like Sal Abruscato, particularly on the track ‘Smell the Kill’, which could be A Pale Horse Named Death set a speed too fast on the ol’ turntable.
Which is all to say that Travis Johnson has not yet found himself as a vocalist. Further, Invidia has not yet found themselves as a band.
As The Sun Sleeps adheres to a formula that is very much the flavor of the day. Crunchy down-tuned riffs in the verse, melodic chorus, wash, rinse, repeat. Breakdown. Chorus. Thank you and good night, Cleveland. But the heaviness lacks, well, heavy, and the choruses just aren’t sticky enough to get stuck in your head or anywhere else.
Sadly, despite the obvious talents of the individual members, there are few memorable moments on As the Sun Sleeps. I suspect they will take some hits with this album, as Rocky predicted. Let’s see if they can keep moving forward. Maybe, if the sun wakes up on their sophomore effort, Invidia will embrace those individualities and strive for something more unique.