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Album Review: TBA

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Album Review: Soma Dark - Begin

Show me an album cover of a shadowy figure creeping through a gloomy, misty wood and I'd bet my bottom dollar that a black metal band was responsible for it. Well, I'd end up with an empty wallet if you showed me Soma Dark's debut effort, Begin. With a raging groove, catchy riffs and sharp, unobstructed vocals, the Manchester quintet are about as likely to wear corpsepaint as they are to burn a church down. Nope, they are far too ensconced in their pastime of seeing which musical styles work best together.

There's clearly plenty of Machine Head worship lurking at the heart of their decision to start crossing those genre streams. It's there from the start with vocalist Michael Hardman invoking the spirit of Rob Flynn with soars and roars in equal measure, whilst throughout Arun Kamarth and Stuart Armriding trade Demmel chugs and shreds like they're going out of fashion. The rhythmic drive that drags you kicking and screaming into "Passengers Of Time" ends up with freewheeling arpeggio riffs crashing into crusty bass and skittish drums. There's plenty of 'Tallica influence in here too with a good dose of mainstream melodics to help you through tracks like "Lies Behind" and "A Tone Set For The Lace Skyline". There are also doomier qualities that skulk within the gritty seams of "Mauna Kea" and "2505" and, to top it all, "Faultline" and "Resolute", with its Cavalera-esque blurt, go all rapcore on us and the neat production instantly responds by disassembling itself in protest.

In the end, either unnecessarily complex structures or these insane vocal machinations only succeed in break up the flow of the heavier tracks and the slower numbers just don't venture into those misty woods far enough when trying to seek out a menacing solitude in which to bury their bodies. There's a doughy, repetitious quality to the poppier choruses and there are plenty of loose connections at vital times. There's still promise in the simpler movements of tracks like "Breathe", with its thick, boomy bass and gentle sweeping action, and the hard rocking sneer of "Forsaken And Falling" which both end up being a million times more tenacious as a result.

For a debut album, they've certainly bitten off a large chunk here and, at the moment, it's proving a bit of a tough chew. It shows they've got guts and ambition though which are definitely good qualities to have. Clearly avid metal fans with a good ear for melody and a craving for song variation, I really hope they can match their ambition with a tighter, more clearly defined vision next time around.

Also online@ MTUK = http://www.metalteamuk.net/oct11reviews/cdreviews-soma.htm

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