Review Summary: Exotype's eponymous debut album provides the listener with 12 catchy and solid tunes, and achieves what so many other bands try and fail to do.
I've always been relatively skeptical about bands which blend electronic music with metal, particularly when it comes to modern bands. There are certainly a few bands who can do it, such as Celldweller and I See Stars (even if the clean vocals of the latter are outrageously whiny and made me question the gender of the singer). However, there are plenty more bands who try this, and simply end up with material which is a complete mess. It's a shame, since this theoretically should be a match made in heaven for me (being an avid fan of both genres). Upon hearing Exotype for the first time, I was afraid that they would end up falling into the latter category.
Exotype are a relatively new band. Before this album they had only released an EP which, upon listening to, didn't set my hopes high for this full-length LP. The electronics overpowered the guitars a lot of the time, and they didn't seem to fit together at all. So when I got around to listening to a song from this album for the first time ("For Those Afraid to Speak"), I skeptically listened as the song opened with a short electronic intro.
I was pleasantly surprised.
Now let me get a few obvious flaws with this album, because it's by no means perfect. The lyrics in this album aren't exactly ground-breaking, and in places are incredibly cheesy. There are certainly lines which will be great for audience participation, but overall the lyric writing could do with a bit of work. The pseudo-rapping in some places is also something which many people will probably loathe. If you're coming to this album looking for extremely technical instrumentation, you probably should consider looking elsewhere, too.
Having said that, whilst there's nothing particularly groundbreaking about this album, it's still a very solid release. There's enough going on instrumentally to keep the listener interested throughout, and there is certainly a lot of melody throughout this release. The occasional solo is also a nice addition to this album, in songs such as "Breathe Me In". Vocalist Steven McCorry has a wide vocal range, with the ability to sing, scream highs and growl guttural lows. He also provides plenty of emotion throughout this album, and despite the electronic nature of the album, his cleans sound relatively natural. One thing I've always disliked in a lot of these "Electronicore" bands like Abandon All Ships is the inclusion of autotune in the clean vocals; it rids it of emotion and they may as well not be included. The guest appearance on "Wide Awake" from Chad Ruhlig of For The Fallen Dreams also fits in well with McCorry's vocals.
As far as balancing out the electronics with the metal, Exotype have almost completely nailed it on this release. There are a few times where the electronics still drown out the guitars, such as in "Nanovirus", but overall there is much more of a balance, and the electronics actually improve on the sound and make this band unique enough to stand out from the rest of the pile, whilst remaining incredibly catchy at the same time. Album closer "Illuminate" is probably the best song on this album, and really showcases how well (with a little help from electronica artist DJ Inukshuk) the band blends the distorted guitars with the electronics.
As of now, it seems relatively uncertain as to whether this band will turn out to be good or bad in years to come. They definitely have the ability to write catchy, fun songs, and as far as blending Metal with Electronic music is concerned, they have certainly executed it very well on this album. But whether they can pull this off with their next few releases will only be determined a few years down the line. Needless to say, if you're looking for fun, heavy music which is filled with melody, crushing riffs and electronics darted all over it, then pick this up. You won't be dissappointed.