Review Summary: Northlane play with atmosphere and ambience too much, but still put out a solid record.
Continuing on their late 2011 release, Discoveries
, Northlane have a released a new album entitled Singularity
. Despite being such a young band, they have already found their niche in the metalcore genre. They continue to play a forward thinking style of metalcore that includes seven-string guitars and a whole lot of atmosphere. In Discoveries
they made it clear they wanted to stand out among the crowd of modern metalcore bands. They incorporated more unique song structures, impressive instrumentation and a strong message accompanied by well thought out lyrics. While the lot of this continues in Singularity
there are definitely differences that set it apart from its predecessor, Northlane is:
Adrian Fitipaldes - Vocals
Nic Pettersen - Drums
Josh Smith - Guitars
Jon Deiley - Guitars
Alex Milovic - Bass
Right from the beginning of "Genesis" you can tell that the guys are definitely going for a more atmospheric approach in Singularity
. Whether it be electronic based ambience or multi-layered guitar tracks there is almost always something else going on in the background that adds a lot of texture to the songs. The downside of this is that it's harder to focus on the main parts of the songs. The second track, "Scarab" is most reminiscent of Northlane's older material, it's a fast paced song with impressive instrumentation and is less like the rest of the songs on Singularity
. We cannot get much further in the album without touching on something that definitely improved from Discoveries
, vocals. Adrian Fitipaldes has really stepped his game here. While his surely sounds the same as he always has, everything is stronger. His lows are immense and powerful, and his highs are no longer as awkward sounding as they were on Discoveries
. Not only that but his cleans are excellent. While the cleans were good in Discoveries
, they are really something here, and they really make an impact when utilized.
Continuing in a similar style of Discoveries
, the guitars are a centerpiece of the music. As Josh and Jon moved to seven strings for Singularity
they are now tuning lower than before, to F to be exact, and they still have more upper range notes to utilize than before. That comes with benefits and consequences. While they have more range to do as they wish they also droll on the low F all too often. Which is quite boring after awhile and seeing as high as the guitars are in the mix actually gets a bit annoying. But the benefits are that the leads and ambient backing guitars have more depth and more variation. Unfortunately, bassist and fellow Sputniker, Alex, is inaudible in most parts of the record. With a good set of headphones or sound system you will be able to hear him, but through your Apple ear-buds you definitely will not be getting that low end rumble.
The overall songwriting on Singularity
, is quite good. It is exactly what we all expected after hearing "Worldeater" last December. Lots of atmosphere, heavy guitars leading on the heavy parts and strong vocals. But one thing that is kept the same is Nic's creative and technical drumming. Just as he was a highlight on Discoveries
, he is here again. Now he sounds even better though, with now proper recording, mixing and mastering there isn't anything to hold him back from an excellent performance across the board.
And even though Northlane has had a prolific career thus far, they are still a young band and their influences still show very clearly. And while that's not a bad thing per say, it would be a little nicer to have some more variance amongst the influences. One influence that is easy to pick out is the UK metalcore band, Architects. Songs such as "Dream Awake" and "The Calling" are similar in structure and aesthetic as songs from Daybreak
. Another one would be Volumes. You can also easily pick this out with the slower paced tracks that has an emphasis on ambience and heavy guitars. But all too often they stop to have a quick ambient section, which can work well sometimes; see "Dispossession" from Discoveries
, but this time around they are just getting in their own way most of the time. Instead on going on with a interesting groove and expanding on that idea they abruptly stop the song for this spacey, ambient stuff that is detrimental to the pace of the album, and really kills the flow. But there are cases where they manage to pull it off well, where they take a guitar line from the ambient sections and entwine it with the heavy parts.
One thing that is still the same from Discoveries
, is that the title track is still a nice uplifting instrumental piece. This time around "Singularity" starts with some nice and pleasant ambience before a quote from Terrance McKenna is sampled, the quote consists of disdain for modern society and the way humans live their lives and how we are being brainwashed by media. The speech fits the entire message of the record perfectly. Disdain for modern societies and the corruption of brainwashing of the media. The last song, "Aspire" wraps up the record well and happens to be one of Northlane's heaviest tracks. While it ends rather abruptly it still succeeds in finishing the record off well and capping it off with a focused theme.
Overall the album is very focused and does a good job of entertaining the listening. It's a fairly short record, clocking in at 35 minutes, with ten songs. No song stays for too long, but also no song really develops as much as you might like. Much like Architects' Daybreak
, too often gets in its own way while trying to expand on these ambient ideas. While a couple of the heavier songs don't have this problem, a number of them do. But in the end Singularity
does exactly what it should. It is quite heavy, the ambient sections are mixed in well for the most part and it has a great message, and the message is very strong as it always is with Northlane.