Okay, so I should've known better. The bit in the PR packet that came with the CD where it says Cold "counts Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst among their fans" should've been a big, flashing-neon warning sign (same deal with the fact that the CD's on Durst's own Flip imprint). The music isn't another Limp Bizkit clone, which should be a good thing, but that doesn't mean this is necessarily anything wonderful, even still. Cold edges towards the soul-searching, melodic, non-rap side of the "new metal" milieu (think the Deftones or Far), which is nice, but they just don't pull off anything new here. The music, the lyrics, the art, it's all weirdly predictable, even to somebody who's not particularly a student of the genre.
Vocalist/lyricist Scooter Ward's vocals are a good example: throughout 13 Ways, Ward sounds eerily familiar, making me swear I've heard him before, but I haven't...it's just that he sounds exactly like a half-dozen other singers out there right now. Ward's got that back-of-the-throat growl-y thing down, a la Creed, early Stone Temple Pilots, or Gavin Rossdale of Bush, and for the quieter songs his other vocal mode is to get all breathy and hushed, a trend that bugs the shit out of me because it lets the singer avoid showing any real emotion. In the end, the songs get to be indistinguishable from those of a lot of other bands. Anybody out there hear that "arms wide open" song by Creed (I think) and think it was Pearl Jam? I know I did, and almost every track on 13 Ways strikes me the same way -- if I heard any of this on the radio, I'd peg it almost immediately as "oh, it must be a new Creed song." And that, needless to say, isn't a good thing.
Now, just because I'm a sucker, I'll back off a bit on these guys: Cold isn't wretched. Really, taken as part of the general genre of music to which they belong, they're not half-bad. Die-hard fans of new metal may well think this album's the Second Coming -- I don't, but my new metal tendencies pretty much begin and end with Far's Tin Cans with Strings to You, so this isn't usually my thing. I did catch my foot tapping along occasionally, and I actually enjoyed the heck out of "End of the World," which drops the gimmicks long enough to throw in a depressingly majestic chorus. It sounds like Cold could probably be pretty entertaining live, as well, but then, I think that might be part of the problem: the road to real stardom is littered with the corpses of bands that were really great live, but not real memorable otherwise.