Nonpoint has been a staple in the nu metal genre for 14 years now. That is quite the accomplishment for any band in the genre mostly due to 90% of the acts fizzling out within five years. Nonpoint has pulled this accomplishment off by having a lot more personality than most, giving a nice taste of hardcore and a more intimate writing style to connect with their fans. Recoil and To the Pain could be looked upon as the moment their sound was fully embraced by mainstream fans, with singles like “Bullet With a Name” and “The Truth” bringing a dark edge to radio rock. In the past seven years, Nonpoint have struggled to keep that momentum moving positively. The Return is their chance to start fresh and clean. However, it is more of the same disappointing but passable nu metal.
As far as sound goes, Nonpoint will make older fans happy with their tried and true formula on The Return. Guitars are the best aspect by a mile with simplistic crunchy tones and fast-paced rhythms, and while this sound has been there for the last 14 years, it still works to decent effect. The drum work is also very solid throughout the record, even if it is mixed too far back at moments, but there is a certain primal feel to the music due to the mix of tones in the drum lines. The real problem with The Return is surprisingly the vocal performance. Elias Soriano has been the main staple as to why Nonpoint have seemed so original in the past, and, yet, Soriano seems less invested in these tracks, and the tone of his voice is almost too monotone from beginning to end.
There are a handful of passable and decent tracks on The Return to get diehard fans excited. “Pins and Needles” opens the record off well, full of a classic sense of Nonpoint’s music, despite an inconsistent vocal delivery . “Breaking Skin” is a worthy lead single marked up with a strong sense of melody and and just the right amount of heavy in the guitar work, while “Take Apart This World” is one of the most balanced tracks on the album, mixing good guitars, drums, and vocals, The best track is easily “Widowmaker,” being the slowest and having the most intimate set of lyrics. The slower guitar tone, melodic leads, and balanced vocal performance shows off what Nonpoint can bring to the table.
There are just as many disappointing songs as there are good ones, unfortunately. “Razors” tries hard and the musicianship is solid all around, but the big issue is the vocal delivery and a chorus that never seems to want to dissipate. “Goodbye Letters” has a good meaning and solid guitar leads to offer, but the execution and mixing of the vocals are tough to listen to. “Never Cared Before” would be a fine song but the writing and tone are petty awful. At one point the it calls for someone to get ran over by a bus, which is just tacky, and the speed at which the lyrics are delivered are equally as bad also. By far the worst song is the horribly named “Fu**’d.” The whole song is a teenage angst anthem about how the world is screwed, which seems written out of anger and lacks any true imagination or artistry.
Nonpoint show off a few solid new songs with their returning album, but they cannot seem to avoid the average output present in the last seven years. Despite some good guitar and drum work, the mixing and vocals are too hit-and-miss to be truly interesting. Nonpoint can come back to their strong roots with some better writing, but The Return will still have enough interesting tracks to make new Nonpoint fans happy.
1. Pins and Needles
2. Breaking Skin
5. The Return
6. Take Apart This World
7. Forcing Hands
8. Goodbye Letters
9. Never Ending Hole
11. Never Cared Before
13. Know Myself