Review Summary: If you would like to think over the rather difficult question about what are the pathways whereby one band becomes popular and another wallows in obscurity, check out this album. Oh, and you probably should also like listening to bands like Atheist.3 of 5 thought this review was well written
I will never understand for the life of me why technical metal bands with a great sense of creativity, groove, melodies, and harmonies plus insane and original solos like Alarum are almost unknown, whereas cookie cutter technical death metal bands (too many to name) that just make plain horrible, awful, ultrafast and ultimately unlistenable music with vocals that sound like a guy trying desperately to win a $1000 bet whether he can ruin his vocal chords permanently within 40 minutes or less and with the same boring sweep patterns stolen from Necrophagist played over and over again (albeit really ***ing fast) obtained lots of currency within the underground metal scene and became the "in" trend about 4-5 years ago. It really makes me ponder the meaning of life and why anyone in metal bothers doing anything involving melody.
If you would also like to ponder the meaning of life and the rather difficult question about what are the pathways whereby one band becomes popular and another wallows in obscurity, you should check out this album. Oh, and you probably should also like listening to bands like Atheist.
In their long-awaited (by me) follow-up to "Eventuality," Alarum offers more of their distinctive sound. To my ears at least, their style of chugging riffing patterns, which are often followed closely by clean arpeggiated chords which are allowed to ring out, are unique within the technical metal genre, and sound closer to thrash sources, such as the aforementioned Atheist, than death metal sources. The drumming, like the rhythm guitar work, shows great finesse and does not fall into any of the usual cliches of the genre. I consider the solos incredible both from a purely technical standpoint--they sound fast and clean, like Chris Broderick's on "Endgame" to pull a reference slightly out of left field, but what is more impressive is the guitarist Mark Evans' phrasing. It really is top notch and is what separates him from so many other who put a sock on their neck, sweep up and down, and think they've done something cool. The vocals are also closer to the thrash tradition than death metal and are somewhat of a weak spot, but they fit the music and I'd much rather have this kind of vocals than the harsh, growling, passing-a-kidney stone vocals or the operatic, falsetto vocals that so plague so many other metal bands with this type of instrumentation.
There are a few more musical surprises on this disc (intrusions from other genres--I won't ruin them for you) than their previous album. The majority of them work, but a couple fall a bit flat.
Please pardon me that Cynic's "Focus" is in the "similar album" list. It's really not that similar, and besides, "Focus" is sui generis.