Review Summary: Not exactly the sum of its parts, but some full-bodied fun nonetheless
Collaboration is a funny thing. I’m sure when the idea of Hundred Suns was conceived, featuring members of profoundly heavy bands Norma Jean, Every Time I Die, and Dead and Divine, people were imagining a final product a little different than The Prestaliis
. The concept of Cory Brandan shrieking maniacally over drummer Ryan “Legs” Leger’s breakneck double-time metal beats is enticing, but make no mistake; that’s not who Hundred Suns are.
is a catchy slab of alt. metal more along the lines of Demon Hunter and Sevendust than any of the band members’ assorted projects. Admittedly, that description may be worrying, but the pedigree of the musicians put to tape here is good enough to steer this record clear of the pitfalls and cliches of its sonic contemporaries.
Cory Brandan has a real ear for vocal melodies within heavier music, and while he’s flexed his chops in some of Norma Jean’s recent material, The Prestaliis
is the first time he’s had free reign to explore that direction fully. It seems impossible that Brandan is still growing as a vocalist at 41 years old, but he carries huge, radio-ready choruses like “Last Apology” and “Fractional” as well as you could possibly hope. Leger forgoes the high-speed chaos of his work with Every Time I Die in favor of a more in-the-pocket approach, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still get to have some fun (see “Bedburner”). While his approach to guitar isn’t terribly unique, Chris LeMasters avoids becoming the weak link by creating rich walls of riffs for his bandmates to work with.
While this is decidedly not a metalcore album, The Prestaliis
still has bite to it; the title track(s) bookending the record trudge menacingly beneath Brandan’s aggressive shouts, and “Hellelujah” smacks you around with off-kilter triplet grooves and angular riffs. “December” and “Infinite Winter” play out almost like power ballads, with Brandan’s vocals soaring above some of LeMasters’ more lush soundscapes on the record.
Truth be told, The Prestaliis
doesn’t have many weaknesses. The songs are solid enough, the individual performances are commendable, and the production is clear as can be. But at its core, this is a radio rock album, and it lacks enough genuine musical risks to elevate itself to be anything truly spectacular. As well executed as these songs are, a twinge of predictability runs through them that they never really manage to shake. “For what it is” always seems like a backhanded compliment, but for what it is, The Prestaliis
is a sharp, emotive, and generally slammin’ good time. You’ll take that any day of the week.