Review Summary: The Most Uninspiring Album This Year.
In 2006, Nuclear Blast and Threat Signal gave Metalheads around the globe an album to be excited about - 'Under Reprisal'. An album that incorporated both the technical and melodic aspects of groove-oriented death metal in almost perfect balance. Songs such as 'As I Destruct' and 'Counterbalance' deserve masterpiece status alone for the sheer journey through aggressive and atmospheric dynamics that the music takes the listener.
As well as fantastic songs, the album as had a very unique production, keeping a lot of the higher frequencies in the mix, which emphasised singer Jon Howard's unique high pitch scream and the crunch of the guitars riffs - sounds that were instantly recognisable to Threat Signal.
However, since that point, things have simply disintegrated to the point were they have released one of the most uninspiring albums I have ever heard in the twelve years I have loved Metal music. It is worth noting that very quickly that after the release of 'Under Reprisal', every member of the band except singer, Jon Howard, left to focus on their own personal issues and the following months were used to find replacements for upcoming tours.
With a line up seemingly sorted, the band released their second album - 'Vigilance', and as soon as you put it on, you realised that the new members and new production team(the band themselves instead of Christian Olde Wolbers of Fear Factory) had created a new sound for Threat Signal that seemed more thrash metal oriented and lacked much of what we had become accustomed to as the 'Threat Signal sound'.
I realise I have not mentioned the album I am reviewing, but I felt this introduction necessary, as it puts everything from this point on in context. So here we go.
I found out last week that there was a new Threat Signal album, so without any hesitation I found the album online and gave it a listen.
The first thing I noticed straight away was that the production on the album is very clean and clinical, normally a good thing, but I found it suffocating and lacking of any emotion that you should get from a song this aggressive. The reason for this production is possibly due to the artistic direction the band seem to have taken themselves.
For starters, this album is A LOT more Tech Death Metal than any previous Threat Signal album, reminding me of the new Cryptopsy sound. If you love that sound then you will like this album, but the fact is that new members and production have lead this band into the same trap that lot of bands fell into with the explosion of 'Deathcore', trying to emulate bands such as 'Despised Icon', 'Job For A Cowboy, 'The Red Chord' - who all received huge success in a very short space of time. The irony here being that, the 'Deathcore' scene is not as popular as it used to be.
Apart from the first track, 'Uncensored', which wil grab your attention straight away for its..'wtf is this Threat Signal' factor, you could play the entire album without even realising that you were changing tracks. Each song has the same layout:
1) Mediocre, not very memorable riff
2) Same time/groove/feel
3) Emotionless guitar solo( if you loved the first album, you will notice this the most)
In summary, the fact that this bands first album was so good, always meant that they were going to find it hard to repeat such a refreshing album. The fact of the matter that in finding new band members and a new sound, they have ended up losing all the elements that people found most endearing about their music. Lets hope they get back on the wagon because another bad album could seriously finish this band.