Review Summary: France has metal? France has GOOD metal?
Groove-based death metal from Paris, France? It’s more likely than you think, especially when you listen to Head Takers and their 2012 demo, ”Beyond the Shades
. Clocking in at a little over twenty-three minutes long, this short release is a promising one, filled with tasteful solos, groovy melodies, and powerful vocals. Head Takers deserve a pat on the back for their efforts. Si seulement je pouvais le traduire en français!
The vocals on ”Beyond the Shades
are one of the most commanding aspects about the band. Their presence is clearly the driving force behind the band’s sound – a sign of both intelligently-written vocal patterns and – gasp – actual experience with vocals! While most of the vocals walk the line between death and thrash, they all sound fantastic. From the deep, deathy growling to the middle-pitched thrashy screaming, the vocals are powerful and forceful, and their production adds a slight echo to them. This gives each scream and growl added venom and improves the sonic atmosphere manyfold, allowing the vocals to compliment the sound beyond merely directing it. Despite not being wildly different than their contemporaries, the vocals of Head Takers manage to accomplish a tasteful variety while sounding great.
The same largely goes for the guitars, which cycle evenly between speedy riffs, atmospheric passages, and melodic solos. Every aspect of this variety is written and executed with the skill required to make an impact, allowing the guitarists to contribute positively to the mix while still sounding naturally tied to the mix. The production job on them is fairly decent, and doesn’t do a lot to boost them but also doesn’t hinder them in any way. When it comes to the guitar structuring, you won’t find the material of virtuosos, but you will find solid execution and a damn fine sound that sets the band apart from most of what I hear on a daily basis.
The drumming of ”Beyond the Shades
is focused on annihilating your eardrums, and the mastering of the demo lets them do just that. Every bass kick is audible, every snare hit is powerful, and every hat hit can be recognised amidst everything else that’s going on. What sets the drums apart from any other death/thrash band? Oddly enough, Head Takers’ drummer just knows what he’s doing. His proficiency with his kit can be felt very clearly from a cursory listen: his obsession with double-bass kicks can be easily forgiven when you hear how varied his hands are. The importance of the high and low hats are realised in every song – definitely a sign of a skillful drummer.
Indeed, Head Takers is a rare find in this day and age: they’re a band of metalheads who know their stuff, and they’re relatively new to the scene. With stuff this solid coming off of a twenty-three minute demo, I’m eager to hear what Head Takers can pull out of their ass if they write a good old full-length album. I can only hope it’ll be sooner, rather than later. Grab their free demo over here, and get listening!
Download it at http://headtakers.bandcamp.com/album/beyond-the-shades
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