Tag Archives: massachusetts

The Summoned – If Only Minds Could Paint Pictures [Review]

If Only Minds Could Paint Pictures is the debut full-length from Massachusetts-based extreme metallers The Summoned, and is currently unreleased (perhaps more news to come on that in the future).

The Summoned belong to the group of bands that play a style of music that borders itself along death metal and grindcore (but isn’t really deathcore). Clocking in at only 33 minutes, it’s a bit of a short album, but very dense in musical content. There are lots of really nice guitar licks, pace changes, etc. combined with Steve’s excessively brutal vocals. Deciding to not go the route of bands like Suffocation and Skinless, the vocals are not usually at the lowest of lows. Instead, the vocals mostly sound more like mid-range screams than growls–and they pack a ton of fury.

Easily the best part about If Only Minds Could Paint Pictures is the consistently high level of guitar work. While they aren’t constantly noodling, the riffs, licks and solos are always interesting. The somewhat atonal licks in “Anatomy Of A Bar Fight” show just how strong of a grasp this band has on quality guitar parts that stray from the path just a bit. You even get to hear that they have a good ear for melody and tasteful guitar playing on the track “The Flood” with some solid guitar solos dropped right in the middle of that track.

Most of the album is straight to sixth gear, outside of the very somber guitar interlude track “Space Was…” which only lasts for a minute and is followed by what could be the gnarliest track on the album “Space Is…” which is filled with mid-tempo blasts, pinch harmonics, and harmonized guitar licks.

From start to finish you get the feeling that If Only Minds Could Paint Pictures is totally unrelenting. At every point where it feels like there’s a down moment it lulls you into a false sense of security until you get fully-harmonized riffs forced with fury down your throat. Backed up by an extremely tight rhythm section, the very few breakdowns on this album are neither boring or stereotypical, adding another dimension to an already outside of the box style.

As a debut record, there’s not a whole lot you can ask from a band who went the DIY route, except maybe for more of it. Certainly a very interesting listen, if there’s one thing you won’t be while listening to If Only Minds Could Paint Pictures it’s bored. It’s hard to say where exactly the band might go from this release, but more of the same would absolutely be welcomed.

Song choices: “The Flood” and “Anatomy of a Bar Fight”

Overall score: 8/10 devil horns

Advertisements

The March – Unearth [Review]

The March is the fourth full-length release from Massachusetts metalcore band Unearth, their third release on Metal Blade records. The March is the first release with new drummer Derek Kerswill. The album was released October 14, 2008 official, but was leaked a few weeks prior to the release date.

Unearth The March

To be completely honest, I have been awaiting the drop if this album for a long time, and I had high hopes for it. VERY high hopes. Then I heard the first track of the album when it was added to the band’s myspace, and it was simply incredible. Now, I wish I could say the rest of the album is that ludicrous, but it’s not. Nor could it ever be. It’s simply that good. The rest of the album’s pretty good, too.

I’ll say this, it is their most metal release to date. They’ve moved closer yet to the metal scene with their latest release, only furthering the progress from III: In the Eyes of Fire (although, nothing is as metal as “Sanctity of Brothers” on this album). The biggest aid to this venture is what the new drummer adds. Overall, the sound of the drums, and the style of the rhythms, is more metal than hardcore. I think it suits the band, as Buz McGrath can write some pretty fantastic metal riffs (aforementioned “Sanctity of Brothers” is a good example).

As far as production goes, this album is your standard well done album. Nothing really sticks out as bad or good, and it serves it’s purpose. I did notice, however, that the bass is pretty much buried in most of the tracks, which I am personally indifferent about. I can’t say for sure how good the bass lines are on the album, but I will assume for now that is the reason that they are not too prominent in most places on the album.

Arguably the strongest attribute of this album is the songwriting and album composition. There is a lot of style in the construction of this album, and works well as a unit. The songs all run together seamlessly, but are clearly separate songs. The nature of the beast is the abrupt beginning and ending of almost every song, which is usually a no-no, but somehow these guys found a way to make the album move alright even when doing so. I feel that this could be attributed mostly to the abrupt nature of the music itself, even without all the breakdowns that Unearth used to feature on their albums (there are still a bunch, though).

The final thing I want to comment on are the guitar solos and harmonies. Though most people won’t pick up on this, the sweeps that start the album off are harmonized. That means? Yeah, you guessed it, two separate guitar parts. Then there’s the chugging behind it. Doesn’t that just blow your mind? The solos throughout this album really are fantastic, and tasteful at that. Contrary to popular practices, they’re not only tapping and sweeps at the fastest speeds the guitarist can play (don’t worry, though, Buz still melts some faces with some blisteringly fast shredding).

All in all, this album is a great listen, even though it falls off significantly after the first track. The guys from Unearth really brought everything to the table this time around, and now we get to enjoy the sonic feast they have prepared.

Track picks: “My Will Be Done”, “Letting Go” and “Cutsman”

Overall Score: 8 out of 10 devil horns

All That Remains – Overcome [Review]

Overcome is the fourth full-length studio release from Springfield’s (MA) own All That Remains, one of the heavy hitters on Prosthetic Records’ solid lineup. Overcome‘s release date was officially September 16, 2008. The album’s first single will be “Chiron” and will be one of the downloadble songs for Rock Band, along with “Two Weeks”.

All That Remains Overcome

First off, let’s start with what this album did right. They capitalized on one of the few shortcomings of The Fall of Ideals, being that the new album is consistent, and does not have any overly strong or weak points. Overcome also has some really good songwriting, and makes use of some really great melodies. My favorite examples of this is the clean vocal melody in the song “Two Weeks” [track 2] or the guitar parts in “Before the Damned” [track 1] when there are no vocals (pre-verse, about 22 seconds in).

That about covers the good things about this album. Now to begin the bash-fest that will be this review from here on out.

The first thing I want to address is the vocals. The melodic vocals sound AWFUL. I really want to know what the hell happened to Philip Labonte’s voice, or why the decision was made to change the way they were. The screaming/growling vocals are very sub-par throughout the album, but are at times just as fantastic as those from The Fall of Ideals. In some instances the screaming/growling sound almost like clones from previous albums (“Before The Damned” could easily have been from The Fall of Ideals). Most cases of the more intense vocals are simply yelling, though, similar to the new Bullet For My Valentine approach. It worked for them, but certainly doesn’t fit for All That Remains.

The next issue is that the intensity is turned way down on this album. It’s still heavy and aggressive. but lacks the “oomph” that they used to have, and none of the songs hit that hard. Obviously the biggest example of something missing from Overcome are vocals like the opening few seconds of “This Calling” [Track 1 from The Fall of Ideals]. There are no longer visceral, blood-curdling screams. The guitars are no longer as intense, either. They took off a bit of the crunchiness from the guitar sound, although the style of the more rhythmic picking is still as solid (although used less frequently).

All in all, the album shows some potential, but feels overly polished and refined (well done, Jason Suecof). All That Remains have lost their edge it seems. With it’s overly consistent mediocrity, I found it hard to get into this as an album. Granted, there were a couple songs that caught my attention, those songs were addressed in the only paragraph about the good. A pleasant and un-engaging album, because of this there was not much to say about it.

Track picks: “Before the Damned” and “Chiron” (the only tracks that had balls on the album, and the songs that still give me a glimpse of hope that ATR still have it)

Overall score: 5/10 devil horns