Review Summary: RIYL modern death metal hybrids with sci-fi themes
It was Re-Independence Day yesterday (20.08) in Estonia and, due in no small part to local television channels, Will Smith-starred 1996 box-office hit "Independence Day" always starts haunting me during this time of the year. Remember that scene where Smith punches an alien square in the face? That’s also how Weakened’s space-themed debut album sounds – like an impromptu punch to the nose. Endless Eclipse
is a noteworthy little release, especially because it’s somewhat of an oddity in the death metal world. It’s got a really clean, slick production usually associated with modern tech death bands, but that’s not who Weakened are. There are progressive leanings on show, but to call Weakened a full-out progressive death metal band isn’t quite right either – it just means they know how to write songs. They definitely don’t qualify under revival or osdm, so who are they? It is most probable that Weakened will have to focus on carving out a real niche for themselves at one point, but for the time being they’re another promising heavy band from France.
Weakened’s take on modern death metal is definitely an acquired taste, especially since its sparse breakdowns and a few tone selections sound (only at certain moments, mind you) -core influenced, or at least reminiscent of it. Regardless, Endless Eclipse
is heavy and varied enough to possibly satisfy fans of groups ranging from Hypocrisy to Anata. The only thing holding it back is its production, which is devoid of absolutely any grime and will leave fans of dirtier metal undoubtedly indifferent. In fact, the production has a real yin and yang effect going for it: on one hand it is well-balanced, not to mention the excellent tone of the drums, but on the other the guitars sound too squeaky-clean and the whole thing gives off a way too sterile feel. It is possible to look past this initially due to the decent songwriting chops of the band, but on repeated listens the arid production values leave a bittersweet aftertaste.
Concerning the songs themselves, most of them are satisfactory, mid-paced modern death metal tunes, and that’s the general impression the record shall leave after the album’s most unique track "Blackroom" has finished: it’s neat. Endless Eclipse
is an adequate metal record with a few cool tricks up its sleeve to keep the listeners entertained, but it’s also evident this is just a starting block for Weakened. Even though the songwriting chops are there, the band’s direction and aim aren’t transparent at this point. Currently too refrained for the technical/progressive death metal crowd and definitely too "metal" for fans of core-heavy (not to mention synth-heavy) bands like Born of Osiris and the ilk, Weakened find themselves in a fringe area between two poles. It is possible to do good while in that fringe area as well (this album proves it), but it would probably be too tight a rope to walk on for too long. The mix of death metal and episodic -core leanings works here, but only to a point, seeing as how Endless Eclipse
sounds more like a well-rounded conglomeration of the band’s influences and less like a revolutionary masterpiece.
Anomalistic works almost always go down as positive phenomena for me, even when the album in question doesn’t feature light-up-the-world material. Different isn’t always good, but it sure as hell beats boring and trite. Weakened haven’t managed to take the very best from their influences (ranging from Hatebreed to Decapitated and Amon Amarth), but they took enough to craft a decent modern death metal offering which, at the least, can function as a solid basis for future endeavors. Endless Eclipse
doesn’t sound exactly like another, more famous band’s album would and while the record isn’t greater than the sum of its parts, it doesn’t take away from the things it gets right (diverse guitar bits, interesting alien melodies, smooth transitions). The future is wide open for Weakened and which way they’re going to go is to be seen. For the time being though, Endless Eclipse
is a decent option for those seeking a modern death metal record not bound to a specific sub-genre.