Review: In Search of Sight – “Animism” (DIY)

IN SEARCH OF SIGHT from Fort Worth, TX has a new album coming out that is sure to set ears on fire. There are so many contenders for the “djent” throne and so little time to check them all out. This one however, is worth repeated listens.  After the opening salvo of “Revision” which sounds like an outtake for THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY the album begins in earnest with “Onuris”. The song is an instrumental gem of the highest order. Buzzsaw guitar riffs, shedding harmonized solos, complex meters and proggy twists and turns highlight the track. The urgency of the main riff can’t be denied as a face melter right from the play book of MESSHUGAH, but still sounding fairly original too. There are some interesting bass harmonics in the track as well that caught my attention. Next comes “Animism” which has nods to BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME and newer bands like TESSERACT. Vocalist Danbo has a gorgeous melodic voice reminiscent of Tommy Rogers and his guttural low screams are excellent as well. Guitarists Dustin and Russell blast out crazy amounts of riffs and plenty of shred guitar orgy-style goodness to sink your teeth into. Nolan on the drums again impresses with his laid back approach, his technical skills and his trigger heavy sound. The atmospheric ending of the track amazed me and bring to my mind a band like CYNIC or ATHEIST as well.  “Emotional Insight” is another killer track with over the top playing and writing. The track is brutally heavy, angular and complex. More great vocals by Danbo and the deft work by bassist Brian are big pluses. The song also has a brief, but sick guitar solo. In a possible nod to their hometown heroes PANTERA, the song has a tremendous groove factor too. The final track “Completion” is a fine piece of over the top prog revelry. It proves these guys are not content to join the musical movement that may just be a fad, but push forward and lead to a new place beyond this realm. I’ll be interested to hear a full length from them soon.

RATING: 9 / 10
By: Keith “Keefy” Chachkes
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Review: Legend – “The Pale Horse” (Rise Records)

Detroit, Michigan death-core merchants LEGEND are back with new album and I must say it’s as good as expected. With this release they look to separate themselves from the already deep roster of Rise Records. These road dogs are relentless in their music and attitude and their legion of fans eat it up like breakfast. They have turned in a surprisingly mature record that sees them staying true to their roots, but at the same time mine their style a little deeper this time out.

Diagnosis, Doom” opens the album like the soundtrack from a modern horror movie, all creepy and eerie. When the first riff kicks in it burns with the typical intensity and head nodding good stuff you expect. “Circle of Friends” is the proper first song and it rips with uptempo fervor that makes me wanna punch some one’s lights out. I see a lot of tough-guy deathcore bands who lack the musical backbone and chops to go with it and they should pay close attention to LEGEND. Taking a page out of THE ACACIA STRAIN’s book, the song goes through several shifts in mood and raises up the dynamic level dramatically. The next track “Shut Down” is equally aggressive with a tremendous main riff and stop/start rhythms sure to snap necks. Guitarist Aaron Bagby isn’t a one string, one note riffer like most deathcore axemen. He is a skilled player who adds all manner of intricate ear candy for the listener to grab on to. Dylan Shippey is powerhouse drummer and he is the glue that holds these songs and this band together. Bringing in an even more explosive tempo and another level of down-tuned guitars, “Parasite” just crushes big time. As on all the tracks here vocalist Chad Ruhlig shifts between a guttural growl and a hardcore yell. He does interesting pitch changes with his mouthpiece from song to song, giving each cut its own distinct flavor. One of his major strengths is you can always understand his lyrics no matter how hard he screams. “Parasite” also has the best breakdown on the album and even though the band doesn’t do it too often, the bass drop comes in at just the right time. All of the tracks have a degree of programming and sound effects running through them like a thread adding color, but not so much as to take away from the songs. That is the mistake many bands are making these days. You’d like to hear them change up the song styles a little more, but it’s hard to fault an album that sets a goal to kick teeth in and then does it with assassin like precision. Other notable tracks on the album are “Obey”, the single “Proven” and “Shadow Stalker”.

It takes a lot of balls to call your band Legend. I’m not sure they are there quite yet, but they are building an impressive resume with The Pale Horse.

RATING: 8.5 / 10
By: Keith “Keefy” Chachkes
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Review: SEES – “TheenD” (DIY)

Coming straight out of Coventry, Connecticut is the band SEES with one of the best underground releases I have heard this year in Theend (the-end, very clever fellas). In my guise as a professional music appreciator I hear tons of bands on a constantbasis, both signed an unsigned. SEES is easily one of the more inventive and flat out heavy bands I have come across in 2011. Although they categorize themselves under the catch-all “djent” tag, their music is diverse enough to defy labels while touching a variety of cool influences. Isn’t it all just metal in the end? We can have an argument all day and night about djent and its validity as a name for sub-genre if you want to, but for the purpose of this review, I’ll let it go… for now. Upon my first listen to this album I was headbanging and one-man moshing around my living room and generally acting a fool. After doing that for a while I sat down to give Theend a proper examination and review.

Right from the jump the intro “Inhale” just checks your earpiece with heaviness and a taste of what is to come. “Stare” kicks things of in earnest and it is just a crushing ball of rage. The angular riffage and grinding beats immediately call to mind the best names of the genre. Vocalist Brian Malke has a throat scrapping scream that compliments the harness of the music well. Second cut “Ungrateful Self” features a neat sounding layered vocal trick that sounds amazing and calls to mind Mark Hunter of CHIMAIRA, but might be difficult to pull off live by ones’ self. Then the first surprise of the album came next however, as a soaring and lovely chorus took hold. Malke really has the goods and immediately upped the “break out” quotient for me on these guys. Mark Juliano punishes the drums on this and every cut here and has the requisite fast feet for this style too.  Next up is “Nonsense” with more complex and aggro riffage courtesy of Joel Quinn (the band recently added another guitarist named Eric and are looking to fill the bass slot now). He really is the linchpin of the band and marries some intricate fluid solos on this song to go with his harsh chunking chords. “Nonsense” is my favorite track on the album too.

Slowly” and “Nailbiter” are two more songs that have real legs in terms of getting this band wider play. Each had all of the bells and whistles the other tracks have, but also  take your ears on cool little excursions of melody and rhythm that really impressed bme. Shades of SoCal techie death metal skate in and out of these songs, while never truly abandoning the main idea. “Hidden” returns to the straight up brutality and for some reason also reminds me of the heyday of early FEAR FACTORY, while the chorus and melodic guitars can give the boys in UK upstarts TESSERACT a run for their money.

The instrumental “Exhale” book ends the album and finishes with an amusing “shhh”. The only quibble I have with the record is these guys are almost too good at what they do. What I mean by that some of these riffs are so good, once in a while I’d love to hear them grind one out as a straight up breakdown and give the kids something to dance to. That may just be my hardcore ears talking. I suspect these
guys are above such petty ideas without being as pretentious as I just made them sound. Ultimately it is their ability to set themselves apart musically that will be the difference for these up and comers  in terms of getting out of the growing djent ghetto someday. You can download their album for free here.

RATING:  8.5 / 10
By: Keith “Keefy” Chachkes
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