Review Summary: A welcome clone -for a change- comes by to deliver a stellar debut album.
Before we begin I would like to ask all of you to fasten your seatbelts because this four-themed concept album starts out fast and isn’t planning on letting you go during its journey of intellectual, musically theoretical and emotional brilliance. During this journey you will experience elements of death metal, jazz, pop, progressive metal and an enormous Between The Buried And Me
influence, so big that even avid fans will have trouble distinguishing the two acts from each other at certain portions of the album.
Now that we have had those words of warning I’d like to introduce the reviewed band, called “White Arms Of Athena
”. A quintet hailing from Texas and existing out of the following lads;
- Vocals: Josh Everett
- Guitar: Andrew Swinson
- Guitar: Colin McDonnell
- Bass: Thomas Sifuentes
- Drums: Austin Rupp
To put it blunt and disrespectful; just imagine the band Emmure
being a Between The Buried And Me
clone but replace the constant use of breakdowns with arpeggio sweeps and above all, make them all very skilled at playing their instrument, well versed in music theory and grant them with a decent amount of inspiration for songwriting. In other words, these guys know what they are doing and nearly every song is filled with impressive arpeggio sweeps.
As to be expected in the genre this band also uses both clean vocals and screams. The screams are very, very comparable to the screams produced by Tommy Giles Rogers from Between The Buried And Me
or those of Ryan Devlin from Corelia
and while nothing to write home about they do their job good. Generally they are very audible but still remain to have a certain brutal, gutteral feeling to them. The clean vocals on the other hand is where this band really shines, Josh Everett offers a beautiful voice with an impressive range. On top of that his voice isn't autotuned or overproduced and are accompanied by some great lyrics. These lyrics are well written and cover an interesting amount of themes such as altruistic encouragement, the nature of life and even time travel, all spread out over four acts or ten songs that seamlessly flow into each other (with a total playtime of 46 minutes).
I mentioned this already a couple of time so far, simply because it is so apparent. These guys have a serious Between The Buried And Me
vibe going on, or at least at first glance. While they don’t even try to hide their influence there are a couple of differences what differentiates them. The most important difference is that where Between The Buried And Me
usually uses a lot of unorthodox songwriting, weird song progression and genre blending, White Arms Of Athena
chooses for a more conventional song progression. Using a more spacey or even Jazz like sound that is comparable to Cynic
A second difference is that this band has a more optimistic feeling to it, every song is filled with energy and pretty creative songwriting involving pretty technically guitar leads or arpeggio sweeps, creative use of slowing down the pace and an occasional very well executed breakdown (I’ve counted three really short ones, but all of them were a welcome addition and not just there for the sake of being there). While the drummer and the bassist are really great at what they do, they sadly aren’t given a lot of spotlight and if they are given some it’s only for a very short time. The real stars of this album are the guitarists and both of them are really skilled. Remember how many complained about bands like The Human Abstract
, where one guitarist is constantly sweeping away while all the other does is chugging? That’s not the case here as both of them are taking sweeping duties, I myself like it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of you would label it as “pretentious sweeping”.
A third difference is that White Arms Of Athena
is focused way more on their instruments and less on their vocals. In the middle of the album a couple of instrumental songs will be in between songs that are very light on them. Which leads to almost twenty minutes with no, to almost no vocals. Fans of instrumental music can lick their fingers as songwriting itself is really tight in those twenty minutes, but for those who don’t enjoy instrumental music that much this can be a real downer.
This album is pretty hard to rate objectively, on the one hand we have a Between The Buried And Me
clone that equals it’s inspiration source in technical prowess and quality. In other words It’s not another unwelcome clone of an already oversaturated genre (It’s no new Asking Alexandria
or anything alike). But on the other hand this also isn’t the most original album out there.
Further this album still is too much of a “look what we can do” album, especially when it comes down to the guitars. And sadly this sometimes even hurts the music as the drums and bass are denied spotlight because it all goes to the guitarists. I myself loved it, but I’ve seen enough reactions on other albums that tells me some of you aren’t going to enjoy this aural assault as much as I did.
Still I’m of the opinion that this album is worth a score of about 4.0-4.5, as for a debut album, this is really stellar. They do a lot of things right on this album and while overly technical at times, it doesn’t comes over mechanical or soulless at all. Every song is of top notch quality and there is nearly none or no filler on this album. Overall this is a really fun and easy accessible album that must be checked out by the fans of the genre. 4.25/5
- Technical stunning on every aspect;
- Competent vocalist, both with harsh and clean vocals;
- Dynamic, energetic, optimistic song structure;
- Positive, well written lyrics.
- Not that original, as the influence is really obvious;
- Some might see the guitar as pretentious, so much that it might actually hurt the experience;
- The instrumental middle portion of the album might not be liked by listener.
As for my final words; a piece of advice for the guitarist under you; don’t listen to this album as a whole, as you might cry yourself to sleep for the next couple of days to come. Other than that have fun with the album!