So mediocre, it’s scary: The City Sleeps in Flames, so why not the genre?

Scary Kids Scaring Kids

The City Sleeps in Flames

Immortal

Two-and-a-half out of five stars

Fighting for air in the dying days of the musical vacuum known as “screamo” takes a lot of heart. Scary Kids Scaring Kids have got the heart, but sadly, these are still their genre’s dying days.

The Kid’s major-label debut, The City Sleeps in Flames, fights its way through black-metal gloom and prog-punk ambience without batting an eye but manages to poke a few out as it enlists ever-fatal nu-screamo clichs.

Embodied by “The Only Medicine’s” descent from Swedish melodic-metal to South Jersey pop-punk in a matter of heartbroken whines, this weakness flirts with a Mars Volta-esque prog-ovation but never quite seals the deal.

At its best (title-track “The City Sleeps in Flames”), these frightening tots flirt with a B-grade thrice, but when the emo-schmaltz becomes most-suffocating (“Just a Taste”), The City Sleeps devolves into a B-grade parody of its own faltering style.

Metal machismo takes a swing at the Kids’ softer side as the In Flames-inspired riffing of “My Darkest Hour” and “The Bright Side of Suffering” battles off the high school heartbreak of front man Tyson Steven’s diary-esque musings, but it’s simply not enough to stifle the pre-fabricated screamotion.

In the end, the only thing scary about Scary Kids is that their obvious talent is being slaughtered by a dying genre. By the grace of God, they will outlive screamo’s broken-hearted bane.

Dan Fletcher