Review Summary: Epicurean aim high...and fall short.
There are two general ways in which I listen to music. One is when the music is primary, and whatever else I may be doing is not consuming enough to distract from my full attention to the music. The second way is when I am engaged in some other activity, be it work, sport, driving, etc., where my mind is not completely focused on the music. The first two times through Epicurean’s A Consequence of Design were of the latter version. And while such listens aren’t sufficient to provide an accurate review of an album, I knew that an eventual review, after a complete listen, would reflect the fact that very rarely during my two run-throughs of ACOD at work did I stop to pay attention to an interesting riff, chorus, or solo.
On their official website, Epicurean defines their “true character” as the “ability to create what cannot be defined.” In actuality, they are simply an overreaching, progressive-ish melodic thrash act, combining the speed and riffing of thrash, with symphonic background keys, and a mixture of singing and various forms of the scream/growl. They are certainly a talented bunch of instrumentalists, and their debut is of solid production. But when a band lacks songwriting, well…
I guess one can’t fault this band’s effort. (They are, after all, trying to please. According to their Myspace page, the band name refers to the devotion to hedonistic pleasure.) But it seems like Epicurean is trying too hard to win the “best all around camper” award in the camp of metal. They keep one foot in the more extreme side of metal, with their aggressive riffing and death-style vocals, and another foot in the more accessible, melodic side. They are continuously speedy, and yet they really can be defined by their use of keys and clean-vocal choruses. Unfortunately, all these elements do not add up to a solid whole.
Few of the riffs or solos, and none of the keyboard work, really grab the listener’s attention. What does, however, are the horrific choruses, employing the clean vocals of John Laramy. It’s not so much his voice that bothers, but the bombastic and poppy melodies, which often burst in out of place, and oozing with cheese. In addition, at an average of over 5 minutes a song, it is very hard to sit through full songs without skipping to the next.
To my ear, the songs tend to bleed into each other. The first noteworthy part on the album is the (somewhat) good guitar work in "Dividing the Distance,” and to be honest, that is pretty much it. Only two songs later, one must sit through the seven-plus-minute bore fest that is “Anathema.” Finishing off the album are three forgettable tracks in the by-now-tired Epicurean vein of thrashy verses with growling vocals giving way to bad choruses, and eventually a technically impressive, but tedious and dull solo.
Having listened to this album because of a good review in Metal Maniacs, I was dismayed to come to the conclusion that, after three listens, my ears may never hear the sound of A Consequence of Design again.