Review Summary: Technical excellence and flashes of good riffs prevent this from becoming excessively mundane, but for all the talent behind this there seems to be a lot of wasted potential.
It's easy to look at Conquering Dystopia's lineup and assume a lot about how much sheer technicality is present in their music. Featuring the legendary Jeff Loomis
on lead guitar and the similarly acclaimed Alex Webster (of Cannibal Corpse fame) on bass, as well as Keith Merrow
and Alex Rudinger (of The Faceless
), it's clear that this is one of the metal albums with the greatest collective volume of talent behind it of recent years. However, while this could have led to what would easily be one of the best albums of 2014, the result is a somewhat misguided, albeit still reasonably entertaining instrumental metal piece.
Listening to any one song off the album demonstrates the quality here behind any of the tracks. The opener Prelude To Obliteration
is an entertainingly aggressive and simultaneously melodic death metal track, and the following track Tethys
similarly demonstrates the band's capacity for clean cut but extremely technical groove/death metal styles. Loaded with the usual excellent guitar solos courtesy of Jeff, as well as Keith's agile and groovy riffs, there is a lot to like about the album from the get go.
Sadly, this album suffers from a dire lack of variation. Most of Keith's riffs begin to sound the same very quickly, with very little variation in style; whilst most present variation is welcome, some of the more noticeably different styles are less effective, such as the djent-styled riffing at the end of Kufra At Dusk
. This could probably have been rectified simply by changing up who wrote some of the tracks, as Keith's rather samey style of songwriting could have been counterpointed rather well by contributions from the other members. Highlights like Inexhaustible Savagery
and Totalitarian Sphere
are focused towards the beginning and middle of the album, leaving the entirely competent but not terribly interesting second half as a let down compared to the first few tracks. The length of the album also limits the impact many of the tracks could have had; 12 tracks of material, albeit with two filler tracks, does leave some of the album dragging towards the end.
Despite this, one can't say that this is an album without merit in the material. If you find something you like here you certainly won't be lacking more of it, and the excellent performances of all the members practically justifies checking this album for those alone, but given the talent behind the project, it's somewhat disappointing to hear just how simply adequate