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Monday, August 15, 2011

Album Review: Aliases - Safer Than Reality

“Curiouser and curiouser” cried Alice. This quote from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland” popped into my head as I listened to ; a curious band with a curious debut album, well, mini-album. It’s eight tracks of genre-melding mayhem designed to scramble your brain and lay waste to your perceptions of what is possible. Flecked with hardcore tendencies and loaded with intense polyrhythmic, tech-heavy metal, it is divided into sections of throat-scouring screams and echoing harmonies. However, there are also breaks in the mayhem where they seem keen to prove they have a soft side. The whole mathematical mish-mash is definitely an acquired taste.

Hailing from Manchester in the UK, it’s ex- guitarist Graham “Pin” Pinney that has been attracting all the attention, but we also have two ex- members in here, in the form of drummer Darren Pugh and bassist Joe Heaton. Paris-based vocalist Jay Berast and guitarist Leah Woodward complete the line-up and, together, the band clearly has no intentions of hanging about. Formed only a year ago, they are already splurging their highly complex, genre-hopping sound onto “as many stages as possible”.

Turning to the vocals, we hear retched howls of pain vying for attention against reverb-heavy, mid-range melodies and harmonies. The howls are thin and one-dimensional, whilst the harmonies are much safer, more palatable and, consequently, far more likely to dig themselves into your conscious. Saying that, but for the addictive chorus from lead single “What’s Left For Us To Say?”, there is little to love. “Sirens” and “All That Glitters Is Not Gold” have their sweet-sounding moments but the remainder mainly just flexes punk kid muscle or suffers from an ill-conceived attempt to show emotion.

Pin and Woodward’s crawling fingers lay down a pretty solid wall of sound, similar to that used by or , which might explain why Berast struggles so much to break through. “The Reality Of Beliefs” is a fine example of the warm, walking progressions that begin to groove after several listens. Then, there are neat blocks of high-repeating notes in “We Never Should Have Met” that join up in diving formations to knit the spasming sound together; weirdly, they remind me of a speed-thirsty version of ’s “My Recovery Injection”.

may tick several of the boxes for a fresh-sounding modern metal band, but any initial impact they may have on us as potential fans will be quickly dampened by the realisation that this release has clearly been rushed. Consider that you get a couple of minute-long, pointlessly self-serving instrumentals in here, one on piano, one on guitar, and you might as well call this a 25-minute, six-track release. It’s no wonder some sections of the industry are pinning the little-loved “EP” term on this one. It’s a shame because if they’d spent another year turning this into a full album, this band, perhaps, could have made a lasting impression. Welcome to “ In Blunderland” where, despite what they may suggest, all that glitters, sadly, isn’t gold.

Also online @ The NewReview = http://thenewreview.net/reviews/aliases-safer-than-reality
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