Review Summary: A fantastic, varied approach to music with so many different styles contained within that it will astound any listener, and it even has a crisp production job for a bedroom recording.
Mathew Lim is an artist who almost everybody will have no knowledge of and nor will they have heard his 2013 debut album Impressions. It is a sad thing that many underground artists who are just getting started fail to make a real impact, but it is also a blessing in disguise as many of these bedroom projects turn out to be underfunded messes with little to no musical merit to be found. Impressions, however, is the result of a lot of hard work and trials and tribulations, and is a release that deserves more than just to be hidden from the public eye as this is a fantastic release fueled by emotion that hits hard.
This is a release that contains a number of influences across its eleven tracks, ranging from metalcore acts such as Trivium and Parkway Drive to softer bands like Blue Oyster Cult that creates for a whole range of sound. Whilst the music evolves between the numerous styles this album embodies, the vocals also switch between screams and clean sung vocals through which Mathew channels his own stories of pain and how someone becomes stronger with time. The title was given following Lim's realization that "it is the impressions we make on people that affect us in life" and there is perhaps not more fitting a title for this album. Impressions is perhaps the hardest hitting one-man bedroom project that I can remember hearing and for you to discredit it purely on the merit of it not being a major label release would be ludicrous. This is an album that meanders around and will often catch you off guard, but constantly flows well, and for this reason is a major success for the artist who recorded it all.
The Ghost Chronicles is perhaps the best track here, and a great example of how this music moves forward with some really awesome changes in style. It starts off very heavy with some beautiful lead work sticking out over the top, before a softer post-rock segment comes in that fades back into a screaming part. The best part of this song is the solo two and a half minutes into it that could not have come at a better time, and perfectly compliments the crushing riff that backs it up. The constant twists and turns that this song takes will keep any listener interested, and it genuinely has something for everyone. Many vocalists are incapable of matching their clean singing talent with their harsh vocal talent, but Mathew Lim more than accomplishes that here, with some really beautiful softer vocals and a variety of screaming styles that will knock the breath from your lungs. This is a vocalist who deserves to go far in the music industry, as he throws absolutely everything into this album.
One thing that will really surprise many about Impressions is how crisp the recording quality is for saying it was a bedroom recording. This was a real test of patience for the artist who recorded it, who went through a lot of trial and error to get the best possible recording quality, who claims that all that was required was "a sterile environment, a good quality microphone, and a calm state of mind". Whilst it is obvious that this is not a big-budget recording throughout, it is also quite nice to hear a cheap recording job that still sounds not only listenable, but actually quite nice. The heavier guitar parts are very well produced, whilst the drums have nice tones and even the vocals are not overbearing as is often the case with this manner of recording. Everything is mixed really well so that no one instrument dominates the mix and every instrument has a really nice tone to it.
Each of the tracks here has more than enough substance to keep you listening and it is for this reason that Impressions really succeeds. Not once throughout its forty minute duration does this album let go of your throat in terms of quality. Endure The Storm makes great use of a more prominent bass mix, whilst The Surrealist opens up with one of the most mellow sounding parts of the album. Every minute of this perfectly compliments the last, and it seems that from the opening moments of the album, it is just taking the listener on a journey through the mind of the artist. This album builds up really well to the title track which closes it off with some awesome post-rock sections in the introduction to it before steamrolling the listener with a string of different styles that could not be better composed were it written by a band such as Radiohead. This truly is a unique thrill ride of an album, and one that deserves a listen from almost everybody.