Review Summary: Who said reinventing the wheel was required to make a good album?
Post hardcore quintet Cry of the Afflicted carved out a respectable reputation touring their native Canada on the back of their impressive, albeit raw debut LP “Consume This Wasteland”. In 2007, on the back of this they were signed to metal superpower label Solid State Records. It seemed a peculiar signing for a label that signs predominantly christian metalcore bands of the ilk of August Burns Red and Oh, Sleeper. They do fit the christian background of their Solid State counterparts but overall offer a far more melodic experience when compared. Following the signing they quickly moved into the studios to record their follow up album “The Unveiling”.
A number of things strike the listener upon first listen, as already mentioned, this isn’t an atypical metalcore/post hardcore experience. While there are some generic ingredients in the use of downtuned guitars and the presence of dual vocal styles Cry of the Afflicted don’t seem mindlessly manufactured from their post hardcore peers. Firstly much of the vocals are harmonised in production which may turn some individuals off, I however fall into the other category as I hear vocals which excel with the addition of depth to a single vocalist. Lead vocalist Garrett Packer commonly flits between his unique soaring cleans into throaty screams throughout the album which on the other hand is scarcely up to standard, in fact they add little but variation. Variation which is welcome however.
The structure of the music is standard for post hardcore, the band primarily focus' on catchy hooks and strives to appeal to the listener with anthemic chorus’. Lead single “A Scar Filled Sky” embodies the heights reached with its pro-singalong style of writing. Its catchy leads overlay the nicely balanced sound of the rhythm guitar and bass. This is a theme which is replicated throughout the album where essentially the listener is greeted with a blend of feel-good evoking rock riffing mixed with meaty post hardcore rhythms. Emotionally charged stand out track “Built To Fall” characterises their sound completely in which all aspects positive of Cry of the Afflicted come together perfectly. Refreshingly the band opt to omit the use of single note breakdowns that has lead to the universal ridicule of bands such as Alesana and A Skylit Drive. Instead the band has concentrated on constructing interesting riffs (hear “the Influence of False Pretence”) and giving their music a little more face.
Some may point to the clinical production as a reason for such an accomplished result, some may argue the band bring nothing new to the table which to an extent is true. Listeners striving for innovation won’t find a great deal of genre bending material on “The Unveiling". While the songwriting is not groundbreaking, it is effective and this I suppose could be generalised to most aspects of this record.
Negatives are present on the album, there is a sound which is replicated for much of the album meaning some tracks come across as filler as their inferiority is highlighted particularly when compared to the good songs. This fact may also put off listeners who don’t enjoy the sound of the album as there isn’t a huge amount of diversity shown in the songs.
Overall it is evident the band hasn’t set out to reinvent the wheel, maybe because they don’t have the ability to do so. They have however set out to provide what is an enjoyable, easy listening album and have been successful in doing so.
Built To Fall
Scar Filled Sky