Review Summary: Banal music swathed in polish is still banal music
As someone who considers themselves fairly removed from the new “djent” movement that’s consuming the extreme metal scene, it’s quite perplexing to see bands such as Akeldama have praise lumped upon them in droves for doing absolutely nothing of substance. Everything Beautiful
takes the term “superficial” to new heights; even edging out the likes of Born of Osiris in this newfound, unspoken battle to see who can tack the most bells and whistles to any haphazard lull of an album. Although musically indistinguishable from many of their contemporaries, Akeldama have still managed to attain a modest but rapidly expanding fan base in their meagre three year existence, a development that has – to put it bluntly – left me fu
The album starts unobtrusively enough, with a brief synth intro and then the obligatory bottom string chugging. The harsh vocal delivery initially steals the show, as vocalist Andrew Zink weaves his way through tongue-twisting lyrics at an impressive pace. But not even a minute into the opening track, the clean vocals obnoxiously barge in and the album very quickly collapses under its own weight. Credit where credit is due, some of the vocal melodies are pretty interesting, but the performance itself is an aesthetic atrocity. Not trying to sound tactless, but they are legitimately some of, if not the whiniest cleans I’ve heard on a metal record. This isn’t helped by the fact that they sound draped in reverb and pitch-correction, jarring so offensively with the rest of the soundscape that they almost ruin the album as it’s barely begun. Those who find the strength to press on won’t be consoled to any forgivable degree. The album does have its highlights, such as a few interesting riffs in the title track and “Apotheosis”, as well as some genuinely well-executed song progression in the appropriately titled “A Seed of Hope”. But these moments are too few are far between to compensate for the bores that separate them.
One of the album’s biggest problems is the lack of tangible atmosphere, with the shallow “mood” accentuated exclusively by mundane synthesisers, piano keys and sound effects. The album has been produced to the point where oversaturating it with omnipresent electronics is apparently the only solution to its stale sound. Practically every second has been glazed over with a plastic sheen, which in addition to the cringe-worthy cleans makes the record sound insufferably contrived. Where the standard instruments are left to their own devices, they fail produce anything of interest, with the guitars hinging almost wholly on the first few frets of the lower strings. This is worsened by the drumming and bass following the guitars like sheep, forming a homogenous unit and erasing any potential nuances that could have made the album worth revisiting. The aforementioned “A Seed of Hope” almost saves the album from coming across as manufactured drivel. Cleverly utilising brief ambient breaks, tempo shifts and melodious solos to create an effective build and climax, the track is easily the strongest to be found on here. Unfortunately, rest of the songs are – for the most part – simple by comparison, rendering the album tedious despite its infrequent highlights.
Akeldama have demonstrated their sporadic ability to create admirable music, but a conscious effort to sound as poignant as possible leaves Everything Beautiful
feeling forced. It would be wrong to accuse these guys of not applying themselves, but that hasn’t resulted in an interesting album. Banal music swathed in polish is still banal music, and while there is the odd moment of interest, it still succumbs to virtually every chestnut that “djent” is and always will be maligned for.