Often in many genres of music, there are many bands which are overlooked. Most of the time there are really good ones in the mix, and they never recieve the respect or popularity they deserve. Enter Massachusettes' Beyond The Embrace, a band which plays a daunting mix of Thrash, Power, and Melodic Death Metal. They fuse these genres into one awesome CD which doesn't nearly get the recognition it so very well deserves. Seeing as how I had to add this band to the database here, it seems that, sadly, not many people have ever checked this band out, let alone even heard of it. But I can tell you that what is laid down on 2002's "Against The Elements" is something well worth buying, as the quality of craftsmanship involved here coupled with the relentless pace makes it something special indeed. The vocalist, Shawn Gallagher, uses both his raspy death metal growl and his relaxing clean vocals on this CD. The death metal voice sounds like a mix of Mikael Stanne, Anders Friden, and Tomas Lindberg, being very raspy and fast paced. His clean singing, on the other hand, is very well executed, being not overly cheesy like many power metal bands, and not whiney like a lot of metalcore bands. The best I think I can describe it is like a mix of Katatonia and Into Eternity, but his voice has a sound all its own.
Beyond The Embrace has released two CD's, "Against The Elements" being their first, and "Insect Song" being their latest. I much prefer "Against The Elements" for its originality and musicianship. The production is clear and no instrument is too prominent or drowned out. The vocals much of the time blend in with the melodic guitar leads, and the solos showcased here are amazing in their technicality and speed. However, the band still manages to create a raw, underground feeling to the whole thing, with a bit of emotional touches thrown in to make it seem like the songs have a meaning and purpose other than to be as heavy as possible.
"Bastard Screams", the long 5:38 opener, begins with a taste of what is to come in terms of guitars, beginning with a melodic riff before breaking into a different one, with the drums beating very prominently in the background. Gallaghers voice comes in, this time screamed, letting out a ferocious and fast verse. His clean vocals come in for the chorus, and it flows wonderfully with the music, making it seem like yet another instrument. Unlinke many bands, the guitars here remain melodic during the verses, not just going to the same chugging riff which many bands use during verses, which gives the music a great three dimensional feel to it all. The bridge comes in around 2:40, before giving way to the first solo of the CD. Its amazing, melodic, fast, technical, heavy, and just great, a definite treat to listen to, as many bands can't throw down a solo like this, at least from what I've heard in my 70-some odd CD collection. The track ends with a great riff, being rather slow, and the words "Bastard Screams" whispered end the song.
"Mourning In Magenta" is next, and this song is the first hint at the very sad tone of this CD. It beings with a slower, sad riff before the vocals come in, which are 90% cleanly sung in this song, but are still very good. His voice portrays the feeling of this song very well, being of a lower key and very somber. There are a few screamed verses here, before giving way to the chorus. The next solo comes in, this one not being quite as good as the first but still very enjoyable. The song ends with piano, which is a very fitting ending for a sadder song, and I think it works out beautifully here. "Compass" is for sure one of the heavier tracks here, beginning with a more heavy than melodic riff, letting you know that the mean business here. The vocals are screamed with a lot of anger and hatred. It took me a while to grow on this song, but now I realize its a really good song, with the vocals going on the same pace as the riffing in the background. The chorus is cleanly sung, but only for a few lines before being torn apart by the death metal growl again. This is the shortest song on the CD, but they back a lot into it, including the sweet guitar solo which shows up next.
Next is perhaps the saddest, most melancholic metal song I've ever heard, rivaled to me only by Dark Tranquillity's epic "Alone". "Rapture" begins with a slow riff which plays for about 30 seconds before breaking into the screams of Gallagher, this time coming in with full force. His vocals arent that fast, he takes his time to put his energy in the force and anger of his vocals. The song then breaks into perhaps the best chorus I've ever heard, and the best one Beyond The Embrace has ever produced. The lyrics talk about not being accepted in life or even death, and spitting in the face of a higher power. The lyrics in this song are well worth reading as you listen to this song. Then the solo comes in, which is fast and angry, fueled by the hatred portrayed in this song, then being ripped away by another awesome, epic chorus. There is some awesome guitar work in the background after this chorus, being sort of another solo, and its just amazing how they can write such awesome solos and riffs such as this. Another sweet chorus follows, this time backed by amazing guitar work. Then the riffing slows, and perhaps the best song here closes, a 5 star song without a doubt.
The wind whips away in your ears, making you feel alone, cold. Slow acoustic guitars come in, with the wind ripping in the background. This is the beginning of the first instrumental, "Drowning Sun". This is a landmark in terms of intrumentals. It makes you feel like you're alone on the peak of a cold, windswept mountain, with nothing around you but bare pine and rock as far as the eye can see. The acoustic riff continues. I really, really, really enjoy this song, and this riff especially, as its so sad and melancholic. The drums come in next, with the acoustic guitars playing in the foreground. They speed up, and play a different, more complicated riff. Then, the electric guitars come in, with the drums and acoustic still in the background, and double bass kicking over the great riffing being performed by the guitarist. A simple riff closes it out, and my thoughts... wow... this is how all intrumentals should be.
The title track is up next, "Against The Elements" starts it off where we lef toff lsat, with a really ear chatching riff, being both melodic and technical, before Shawn comes in with his very fast screaming voice, letting out a verse in under 10 seconds. Then in comes the chorus, being a mix of clean and screamed vocals. The riffing is solid here and enjoyable. A fast solo is here too, and this all together makes a really enjoyable title track. The next track, "Release" does little, and seems to be probably the only filler type track here. Some may enjoy it, but its a lot of clean singing, and brings nothing new to the table, other than the fact it has a really sick opening guitar lead and a cool acoustic section in the middle. "The Bending Sea" is the 8th track, and it is a sort of fan favorite, although I don't see why. Compared to the other songs on this CD, this one seems just average, but its still a good song. It has a really sweet riff before a section of bass introduces the really, really fast screamed vocals. There is a really awesome solo in this song too, so its worth checking out and is a pretty good song all in all.
"Embers Astray" beings with a smack-in-the-face style riff, being fast, technical, and very melodic. There are many songs in metal where you can judge it from the opening riff, and as soon as I heard the opening riff to this song I knew it was going to be a monster of a song. It lives up to that, and much, much more. The vocals are almost all screamed, and the versing is very enjoyable. The chorus is brutal, being heavy and catchy at the same time, and that damn good opening riff keeps up the pace in the background. There is a rather long, but nonetheless sick solo, which is nothing short of amazing. As the last notes of this song fade from your speakers, you know for a fact you just listened to the best song on the CD...
... Then comes in the final track, the second instrumental, "The Riddle Of Steel". This song is like one giant guitar solo, being almost all electric guitar, and has a faster pace than the somber "Drowning Sun". The riffing is really catchy on this song, and if you added vocals this would make a really good regular song. The highlight of the track is from 2:40-4:00, when all hell breaks loose in this huge, epic solo. The guitar itself seems to tell a story that vocals could not, and Beyond The Embrace show off how good they are at what they do with this awesome ending to an overall awesome album, as the final piano notes shut this CD down.
So, after listening to this CD, what do I think of Beyond The Embrace. Talented. VERY Talented. This band has tons of potential to be a huge sucess, but deep down they still do this for fun. This CD is worth buying without a doubt, and is a very enjoyable listen. If you see this one in the store, pick it up, you'll be gald you did.
- Great Vocals
- Superb Intrumentals
- Guitar Work Is Amazing
- Very Catchy And Melodic Riffing
- 1, maybe 2 filler-type tracks
- Clean Vocals Aren't For The Stricter Metalheads
A Solid 4/5