Menagerie
In Moderation


3.5
great

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
September 5th, 2008 | 42 replies | 6,497 views


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Depressing female-fronted progressive metal that sacrifices just a little too much variation in the name of maintaining their morose atmosphere.

If you ask the average person into metal about their feelings towards female vocalists in metal you’d probably find that opinions are extreme. It seems that people either love them or hate them with very little in the way of moderate feelings on the matter. If I had to venture a guess as to why people hate female vocals, I’d say that it’s probably due to the opinion that women just can’t achieve the aggression metal usually requires. A more general opinion is that female vocals just don’t fit the music as well. Whatever the case may be, Menagerie may be able to win some of those people over despite their dependence on a female vocalist.

The main reason that this band may be able to win over those not usually into females in metal is due to the style of metal that they play. Menagerie plays a gloomy brand of progressive metal; a genre not known for it’s “manly” sounding vocalists to begin with. They also don’t fall into the trap of bands such as Dream Theater or To-Mera where they feel the need to stuff a song full of extraneous sections just to pad the playing times. Menagerie actually fall closer to the moody, concise prog of Rage For Order-era Queensryche or A Pleasant Shade of Grey Fates Warning with stylistic influences coming from Mandylion-era The Gathering.

Opening track, “Echo”, stands as one of the best tracks on the album and is wholly representative of what it has to offer. This song, and every song on the album, makes great use of wonderfully morose lead guitar melodies played over chunky riffs and sci-fi style synths which all combine together to lend extra emotional weight to the depressive vocals of Brooke Mayfield. Brooke never tries to reach operatic-highs or death metal lows, instead resting comfortably in an upper mid-range that is perfect for the sadness that she conveys in every song. She also has a tendency to layer different vocal melodies over one another in a way that despite their variation meld together perfectly.

Even though the main focus of the music is definitely the vocal and guitar melodies, the rest of the band also do a great job of keeping things interesting. The bass player only rarely follows the guitar; he can more often be heard playing subtle counter melodies that interplay quite well with the guitar. During closer, “Moderation”, the bass player’s rhythmic melody gives the song its sense of movement and flow. If there is a weak link in the band it is the drummer. Despite the progressive edge of the songs, the drummer generally just lays down a solid beat making calculated use of rolls and double bass only to avoid monotony.

Unfortunately a little monotony has found its way into this album anyway. In order to maintain the depressing vibe of the album they sustain a relatively constant mid-paced speed in all their songs only occasionally varying tempos. Also, while the lead guitar melodies aren’t blatantly plagiarizing each other they all carry a very similar sound which becomes more noticeable as the album carries on. The final hint of monotony comes from the vocals that, while good, uphold a strict adherence to a certain range and never deviate from it. All of those similar elements only tarnish the quality of the album as a whole, but don’t affect the quality of individual songs taken singularly.

Despite the feeling of familiarity that becomes noticeable about three-quarters of the way through the album, Menagerie has still released a solid progressive metal album. There aren’t a lot of progressive metal bands that are good at maintaining a consistent vibe in their music, even within a single song, and that is Menagerie’s strong point, but also their undoing. The beautiful and gloomy vocals combined with strong lead guitar melodies and a solid rhythm section makes for highly enjoyable songs, but they also make for an album that could have used a bit more variation in the long run.



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user ratings (3)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
September 5th 2008



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I will say that it took me about a month of listening to this to have it go from a 3 to a 3.5

Digging: Teramaze - Esoteric Symbolism

Epilogue
September 5th 2008



1555 Comments


Good review. I have a feeling about picking this up after Im done cleaning up my iTunes.

Bleak123
September 5th 2008



1902 Comments


This doesn't sound my thing at all but good review.

bastard
September 5th 2008



3435 Comments


Sounds cool, I like prog metal from time to time.

nice job :thumb:

BallsToTheWall
September 5th 2008



44164 Comments


I've said this before but i'll say it again. I'm on this like a fat kid on a cupcake. Nice review, the singer reminds me of Christina Scabbia but like better and less overrated.

Willie
Moderator
September 5th 2008



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I have a feeling about picking this up after Im done cleaning up my iTunes.
You'll probably like it. It's a grower. I think I got it from CDBaby for like $6 or something.
Nice review, the singer reminds me of Christina Scabbia but like better and less overrated.
She might sound like her a little, but not too much I don't think. She's definitely better though.

BallsToTheWall
September 5th 2008



44164 Comments


Actually, the first thing that came to mind when listening to a few of these tracks was Christina Scabbia. Fortunately i'm really digging the myspace tracks.

Willie
Moderator
September 5th 2008



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've been listening to this a lot lately. It started slow but now I really like it.

Wizard
September 5th 2008



18784 Comments


A more general opinion is that female vocals just don’t fit the music as well.

I couldn't tell you why I find female fronted metal bands to be mostly horrific. Maybe its because most of these bands play some rather generic music (ie. Nightwish, Evanescence, Lacuna Coil etc). I enjoy Arch Enemy quite a bit and thats about it. Depends on the mood of the song if you ask me. This album sounds like I may be in for shock as you have convincingly described. Very good review once again.



Digging: Triptykon - Melana Chasmata

Wizard
September 5th 2008



18784 Comments


By the way Willie, is your avatar a kitten sleeping inbetween some boobies?

BallsToTheWall
September 5th 2008



44164 Comments


No offense wizard, but it's always the same bands that people keep pointing out. People should branch out into this style because their's far more under the surface than originally appears.I do agree that Lacuna Coil suck and Evanesence aren't even metal but Nightwish has never been generic. Speaking of, have you checked out Todesbonden out yet Willie?

Willie
Moderator
September 5th 2008



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

By the way Willie, is your avatar a kitten sleeping inbetween some boobies?
It is. If you look closely it's like an improved Firefox logo.
Speaking of, have you checked out Todesbonden out yet Willie?
The name doesn't sound familiar. It may have fallen under the radar. I will this weekend for sure though.This Message Edited On 09.05.08

bastard
September 5th 2008



3435 Comments


It is. If you look closely it's like an improved Firefox logo.


yeah i just now noticed that.

rasputin
September 5th 2008



14504 Comments


Nice review Willie, probably not something I'd go crazy over though.

Wizard
September 6th 2008



18784 Comments


No offense wizard, but it's always the same bands that people keep pointing out.


None taken Balls. Those were just a few bands that came to mind. I admit though, I haven't really branched out into the female fronted metal too much. This Message Edited On 09.05.08

Wizard
September 6th 2008



18784 Comments


Oops! Double Post!This Message Edited On 09.05.08

Willie
Moderator
September 6th 2008



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

probably not something I'd go crazy over though.
No, not likely.
Now the new Funeral album is great (especially the song with the Solitude
Aeturnus singer).
I admit though, I haven't really branched out into the
female fronted metal too much.
In your defense, I've been bored before
and gone to sites devoted to female metal and literally went down the list and
checked out every one of their Myspace pages and 90% of all of them sounded
very similar (gothic rock or death/ethereal female vocals band). Worse is that at
least 95% of the entire huge list of female bands sucked no matter what they
sound like (and I enjoy females in metal). The truth is that except for the random
obscure band like this one, the well known bands do seem to be as good as it
gets (i.e. Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation, Nightwish, etc).This Message Edited On 09.06.08

rasputin
September 6th 2008



14504 Comments


especially the song with the Solitude
Aeturnus singer

*Immediately googles album*

BallsToTheWall
September 6th 2008



44164 Comments


I never really found Within Temptation to be anything but mildly entertaining but I agree with you there, however, bands like Arkona, Todesbonden, After Forever, Star Of Ash, and more really do help the cause. The style gets a lot of shit talking, more than it deseverves but I understand because too many bands rely on the female vocalist and/or looks to carry the band, factor in shitty instrumentation and generic songwriting, case closed. I never really was content with just the reccs on this site, I've always felt I needed to branch out on my own and find my own reccs. People that turn off the style because of a few said bands should do that. If it doesn't work fuck it, I just try to enjoy metal from all fields without closing my self off from anything.

Willie
Moderator
September 6th 2008



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That's my main problem with a lot of these female fronted bands is that they rely
too much on the female vocals and the music is generally really bad and generic
(and covering it with a layer of keyboards is just like wearing cologne after not
showering for a week... you still stink). I also try to find bands that aren't often
name-dropped and have found a few such as this one and Nemesea that are
really good.

On the other hand I understand that some people just aren't going to like them no
matter what they play.

Edit:

*Immediately googles album*
Give me your e-mail and I'll
send you that song. You'll immediately want the whole album.This Message Edited On 09.06.08



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