Review Summary: Sometimes less is more.
More and more nowadays are metal bands endeavouring to be more extravagant than their peers, attaching bells and whistles in droves in an unspoken battle of flashiness. While these musical fireworks displays are often enjoyable and sometimes enthralling, when the scene is utterly saturated with them, their luridness ends up being a double-edged sword, rendering them indistinguishable. This is where albums like Risabov’s debut Rise
work their magic, managing to sound fresh by virtue of a no-bullshi
t attitude towards both the music and overall presentation. Despite not doing anything new, Rise
’s stripped-down, bare-metal aura contrasts with the uncompromising flamboyance of today’s star metal acts.
It’s an album that manages to stand out thanks in full to its rudimentary nature. Even with an almost total absence of synthesisers, double-tracked vocals, samples and the like, it’s difficult to mistake Rise
’s plain-packaging for dullness. It clashes so intensely with what’s “in” in the metal scene today that its seemingly featureless persona proves to be hugely distinguishing. Utilising a handful of melodic thrash riffs in each track and clocking in at a mere 38 minutes, the album manages to maintain the listener’s attention without the need to resort to jarring tempo shifts or forced hooks. The vocals rarely stray from an unobtrusive death growl but do occasionally heighten in pitch to mix things up a bit. The best thing about the vocals isn’t necessarily the performance itself, but their sporadic usage. There’s very few things that irritate more than an omnipresent harsh vocalist, and on Rise
, the main focus is unmistakably planted on reeling off one infectious riff after another.
This dedication to all things unassuming but effective is no better exemplified than in the production. The sound of the album is characteristically “modern” in that every instrument is clean and acutely balanced, but at the same time it avoids the usual things that commonly break the music in modern productions. The overall sound is rich without being over-compressed, and the drums have the perfect amount a volume for music of this kind. The song-writing will not leave you in awe, as each cut follows a relatively simple but effective formula. A sizeable portion of the songs centre around two key riffs, one slower and melodic and the other more aggressive and technical, before divulging into one or more instrumental breaks. Tracks such as “Head Deficiency” and “Kill Them” are a little more unconventional and progressive in execution, which adds a necessary element of diversity and unpredictability to the album. Crucially, none of these forays into more progressive territory come across as fragmented or self-indulgent, and the key riffs remain as the crux upon which each track revolves.
Sometimes less really is more, and on the whole there isn’t a real lot to fault about Rise
. It’s no-frills, riff-driven manner is not only infectious and addictive, but surprisingly refreshing. Risabov’s attention to overall congruence has resulted in an album that completely trumps the sum of its parts. The obvious challenge now is expanding upon their sound without succumbing to the grandiose antics they so effortlessly evaded on their debut.