Metalcore. It's oversaturated and has become the joke of the extreme metal world. With countless bands harping the same chord progression and over using breakdowns, the scene has become stale to the point of self-parody. Then we have bands like Swarm of the Lotus. Formed in Baltimore in 1998, the band has ushered in a dense concoction of noisy metalcore. With their first cd "When White Becomes Black" making headway in the underground circuits, the band was poised to hit their stride with their next album. That album is "The Sirens of Silence".
"The Sirens of Silence" shows a change up from most metalcore. The sound combines the noise of Converge, density of Meshuggah, the underwater feel of Mastodon, and the dissonance of Neurosis. With these elements, Swarm of the Lotus comprise an epic, sludgy groove with chaos boiling and portruding all along the surface of the songs. The guitars chug with interesting riffing patterns and are far more technical than most other metalcore acts. They also jump around the neck quite a bit and constantly engage in sorrowfull yet powerfull melodies that drive the songs. The drums are quite noteworthy as well. They break from the usual "jog" and play with more of a Tool meets Slayer sort of vibe. The bass isn't anything too special, however, it does earn points for standing out in the mix and up holding the overall groove of the album. Vocals are pretty stadard. Singer Peter Maturi uses a Jens Kidman like bark throughout most of the cd, but sounds a little more emotional than Jens' typical robotic screaming. Also, the band implement singing once in a while, though it's more droning and adding to the hoplessness of the sound as a whole.
As for the songs themselves, they hold up quite well. The album kicks off with a 1 2 3 punch with "Hookworm" and "The Great Maquerade" being great headbangers, and "Call to Abandon", one of my personal favorites, posing an epic dirge that recalls the days of AEnima era Tool. Also, songs like "Jackie G" and "Vertigo" are good complements to the band eratic since of structure. Overall though, becuase of the whole mood of the album, it benefits more from being played all the way through than the individual songs.
The cd isn't without its flaws, however. The album relies too much on chugging riffs. Although they are much more complex than the usual "jun-jun-jun", there are many times when the band could have used a more melodic passage to drive the songs. Also, some songs tend to either take to long to build up ("The Insect Trust Fund"), or don't really go anywhere at all ("Needles of Knives"). However, this is more due to that overall format of the album, more than direct songwriting.
In conclusion, Swarm of Lotus' "The Sirens of Silence" is a great metalcore album for people who are sick of metalcore albums. The epic since of writing and focus on dynamics are a great substitute for those tired with the same rehash you hear day after day. For those who are willing to take a risk and spend time with the album, you will be rewarded with a well written record from a band with a bright future.
- Good musicianship
- Haunting atmosphere
- Progressive songwriting
- Intense and/or chaotic throughout
- Somewhat repetitive
- May be too similar for those burnt out on metalcore
- If you don't pay attention, you'll be lost
- "Call to Abandon"
- "The Great Masquerade"
- "Jackie G"
- Peter Maturi: Guitar, Vocals
- Christopher Csar: Bass, Vocals
- Cole Crickenberger: Guitar, Vocals
- Jon John Michaud: Drums
Overall score: A strong 4/5.