Summers End "s/t" CD
[Hand of Hope]
Aggressive metalcore with raging screaming vocals and a riffing style that's somewhere between the 90's European metalcore vein and the current rage of melodic Swedish sounding bands. So, you know what that means... chugging breakdowns, dual guitar harmonies, plenty of tremolo picking runs, etc. While not the worst of its kind that I've heard, what harms these guys the most is that the songs all run from four to six minutes, which is just too damn long. They seem to be pretty tight, and some of the lead riffs are pretty cool, but... the songwriting just comes off as way too typical for me to get into. Solid riffs? Sure, there are a few killers, but... the overall listen doesn't grab me all that much. I like the faster picking patterns that don't hit on the melodic Swedish crap, and some of the breakdowns are pretty fuckin' great, but like I said... those running times just kind of beat you over the head rather than making a point and moving on. And of course, most of the material does sound pretty damn similar throughout the EP, which isn't the best circumstance for an already overkilled style such as this one, you know? "Headwound" does bring in some singing vocals that lean towards a traditional metal style, which ain't half bad, but... I mean, they're not really metal vocals, if you know what I mean. It just doesn't feel natural. The last three songs are live and ironically don't appear in alternate form on the EP itself. Of course the live recording is unbalanced and less effective (leaving the vocals sounding almost like an exact copy of Tomas Lindberg), but aside from playing slower and getting a little sloppier on the dual guitar harmonies the songs are right on par with the six studio tracks. Hell, "Through My Blood" even has some weird Death sounding riffs that are kind of cool. I don't dig live recordings though, so... Sound-wise the production's okay. It's a bit thin and the solos sound like they were pasted over everything else rather than blending in, which is frustrating, but... the mix is cool and the tones seem alright. It just needs more character - lower lows, less midrange, brighter treble, etc. As it stands things just kind of fall together in a bit of a noisy jumble, so it's listenable, but certainly not optimal. The artwork is comic book styled on this one and actually looks really damn cool, it's not my thing, but they've pulled it off well. But sadly all of the typefaces basically suck (sans the logos, which are cool) and are hard to read due to poor size/color choices, thus making the design come off as a bit inconsistent in the end. Lyrics? "Shredding flesh out of anger to cover my wounds, Open and bound to infection of demise, Terror does not begin to explain this feeling." Ehhh. Not my thing. Passages like that should give you an idea of what to expect from that aspect of the work. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who'll eat this up, but... I'd rather see these guys push for more originality. They see to have a slightly above average level of technical aptitude, and they do demonstrate the ability to write good riffs... they're just inconsistent, so the complete songs suffer. (5/10)
Running time - 42:43, Tracks: 9
[Notable tracks: Haunting Hallowed Graves, Long Time Dead]
Hand of Hope Records - http://www.handofhoperecords.com
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