Review Summary: These extraordinary players take an uncharacteristic journey through the ordinary.
If you’re expecting the trademark Masvidal and Reinert that can be found in Cynic
and on Death’s Human
album (I assume that’s what’s drawn you here), save yourself some reading and some time. This album is probably not for you, as the music makes use of neither musicians prowess, and is probably the farthest thing from technical death metal they could be doing (save country). The music put forth here is ethereal – a description that has been seemingly coined for the band’s music – light, and a little poppy. Those may not have the heart to say it (or hear it for that matter) but there is definitely an undeniable pop presence on this record. That’s not to say that by embracing pop-music ideas these musicians have committed a crime; now failing to properly follow through on those ideas is another thing…
Let’s get something straight if it wasn’t already settled by the first paragraph: this is not a metal album and will yield no metal variation or influence whatsoever. Yeah, I know these are the guys from Cynic, Death, Gordian Knot… The fact that they decided to go with this route shouldn’t actually be all that surprising, given the fact they’d already long conquered the realm of technical metal and instrumental music. When there are only so many places left to venture, why not embrace frontman Paul Masvidal’s airy, soothing vocals and his ability to make less use of his guitar in favour of atmosphere. A softer side of alternative rock does seem slightly appropriate given the musical timeline.
Above the Buried Cry
, the unit’s debut offering, is not an exciting endeavour, though there is the possibility of finding a new fan-base along the way. The best way to describe this music is light alternative rock, almost something you’d hear on the Top 40. It’s incredibly accessible, but that’s because there really isn’t anything for the listener to have to wrap their head around. Perhaps that’s the point of this record right there, and its subtleties shouldn’t be over-examined too much. Still, after repeated listens desperately trying to get into a band made up of favourite metal musicians, I couldn’t get over the fact that they were playing such light, seemingly empty music. I mean, there is definitely a melancholy vibe that I’m sure could evoke some emotions amongst the listening population, if given the chance. I suppose this one’s really up to you…if you’re feelin’ like another airy alt-rock band, this might be a place to stop by.
- I am now fully convinced that Paul Masvidal could front any band, within any genre. He seems to possess the kind of versatility to be able to perform in an array of fields – even if he’s a little stronger in some than others.
- Both Masvidal and Reinert could’ve been instrumentally omitted from this album and no one would’ve been the wiser. Sean’s drumming is so ridiculously mediocre it’s hard to imagine him staying awake throughout the recording sessions. Masvidal, in turn, does nothing magical with his guitar, instead favouring a light strum and some spacey soundscapes to fill the musical gaps.
- Though I can give the band some props for flirting with music outside of their realm, they really do nothing with this “new-found” genre, and when stacked up against their peers here, are actually somewhat of a weak unit.