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Friday, July 15, 2011

Album Review: Visions - Home

As an aspiring guitarist, there’s nothing more impressive than seeing a previously unknown fellow string-batterer walk onto stage with his instrument up around his armpits. Certainly, for me, the excitement that wells inside, before they’ve even played a note, never ceases to amaze. Of course, they might be just a talentless poseur, but experience has taught me that more often than not this is one dude who’s going to scramble your brain with his insane finger-skills. Tech metal is, generally, a visual feast of finger-drumming, pick-scraping, thumb-whacking, strap-yanking ability, plus a sensory explosion of exploratory sound that attacks in cascades of volume and multiple, seemingly chaotic, layers. And that’s just the axework – throw in a spasming vocalist, a hailstorm of skins and a lunatic bassist and you’ve got something truly glorious. I tend to find, more than with any other music format, removal of that live sensation significantly diminishes the genre’s impact. And so it is the case with ’ debut album Home.

Daniel Bareford’s monotone vocals are reminiscent of Mike Hranica’s () but also, oddly, Daniel P. Carter’s () – scarred exhortations that hack at your ears. The backing, softer-edged vocals contain a tonne of melody but, unfortunately, they come in brief spurts and are a little lacking in heart. It’s like having your face sprayed with bloodied bile, then dabbed with a tissue. You get the sense that this may come later, but here they are concentrating hard on breaking you, not serenading you.

“Attentive: Continuum” cracks the soft-shell that forms the introductory acoustics to reveal a bucking, back-breaking beast of tech metal and screamo. Bareford’s colossal onslaught bursts into colour for the odd melodic layer, but it seems to come almost as a less-than-comfortable afterthought. Cue “Machines” and rapid volleys of kick-drum that sound a shade on the clicky side. Jake Monson and Daniel Maywood’s accompanying walls of bottom-end chugging and schisming shreds more than make up for what feels a tad mechanistic at times. The moment where the track ducks down into a darkened, segmented space for a few seconds to dig out a steep rut is key.

“Desinent” picks up its feet and walks straight into a tip of the hat to ’ progressive thrash battery before dipping down for another chunk of mid-paced floor-scraping whilst “Autophobia” releases these great, emotive torrents of descending finger-taps. Star of the show, “Oceans”, finds a neatly-melodic lick and, at two minutes, a softer, cyclical wash that allows for another layer of depth to be cunningly inserted. There’s a structural integrity to everything that pull out of the hat and an agreeable degree of variation, though certainly this latter factor isn’t helped by their clearly deliberate decision to melt one track into another.

With the engineering and mixing side of things being handled by members of and there was never any doubt this was going to punch its weight and punch hard, but it’s not the archetypal breakthrough we were looking for. Toss this into the same pond as and and it’ll struggle to stay afloat. As a debut effort, there’s more than enough proof on display to prove there is plenty more to come, so chuck them the proverbial life preserver by heading out to one of their shows – in that kind of setting, I have absolutely no doubt that they’d destroy.

Also online (with samples) @ The NewReview = http://thenewreview.net/reviews/visions-home

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