Review Summary: Unstable, just like everyone else.
It’s been theorized that style trends recycle every twenty to twenty-five years. Like fashion, music trends appear to rotate similarly because nu-metal has retuned with a vengeance some twenty years since the melding of hip hop and metal elements first hit airwaves. Some recent releases, such as Tallah’s theatrical Matriphagy
, My Ticket Home’s moody Unreal
, or Vein’s cerebral Errorzone
have utilized the genre to accentuate their music and freshen the style with a more modern spin. Regrettably, other bands have hopped on the nu-metal revival wave intent on plagiarizing the style for quick gain without adding anything of value to the genre. Enter Tetrarch and their painfully generic sophomore album, Unstable
Nearly every song on offer has the typical genre tropes of eerie leads over down-tuned power chords, infuriated screamed vocals on verses and bridges, tortured singing a-la the late Chester Bennington of Linkin Park on choruses, and utterly cliché lyrics revolving around self-loathing, being oppressed, or being misunderstood. One glance at the track titles: “I’m Not Right”, “You Never Listen”, “Sick of You”, and “Stitch Me Up” is enough to process what listeners are in store for – largely derivative, formulaic songwriting soaked in melodramatic, yet unconvincing whining. For example, leadoff song "I'm Not Right" opens with the lyrics, "Looking in the mirror and I hate myself
" and the words just come across as cringeworthy and hollow. At least when Corey Taylor was shredding his throat in “Skin Ticket” or Jonathan Davis was having a mental breakdown on “Daddy” those performances felt uncomfortably genuine. Here, any emotion shown on Unstable
comes across as calculated and superficial with the motivation being because that’s just what bands do
playing this style of music.
Despite a vast majority of rehashed, unoriginal songs, Unstable
avoids being considered a total failure. “Negative Noise”, “Addicted”, and “Take a Look Inside” hint to the potential Tetrarch have to craft a promising future for themselves. “Negative Noise” raises the aggression to a higher level, abandoning those repetitious eerie guitar leads after the first fifteen seconds for raging riffs and driving double bass, doing their darndest to worship Iowa-era Slipknot
and Self-Destructive Pattern
-era Spineshank. Bouncy vocal rhythms on the verses of “Addicted” call back to David Draiman’s staccato delivery on the verses of hit single, “Prayer” off Disturbed’s Believe
and pave the foundation for “Addicted” to be deemed the catchiest and most successful song penned for mainstream radio on the entire album. Finally, “Take a Look Inside” opens sounding nearly like Gojira with pick scrapes, blistering double bass and bursts of chugging. Undoubtedly the heaviest song on the album, “Take a Look Inside” uses a soaring, melodic chorus to alternate with pummeling verses before the entire song plunges into an unexpected and impressive extended breakdown before bowing out. Both “Negative Noise” and “Take a Look Inside” hint at how exciting the band could be If they embraced an outright heavier approach instead of wearing that damned Sirius FM Octane leash which limits nearly the entire album.
As nu-metal is poised to saturate mainstream radio again, it’s difficult to find anything of value on Unstable
that Tetrarch can bring to the airwaves. Established genre elders such as Korn, Slipknot, and Disturbed have shown no interest in slowing down and younger, more promising outfits such as Tallah, My Ticket Home, and Vein have all brought a fresh perspective to the style instead of outright plagiarizing. At best, Tetrarch have shown a few glimpses of their potential which is better suited on the heavier end of the genre. At worst, Tetrarch will suffer an early blow to their career as Unstable
is a mess of unoriginal songwriting and unconvincing histrionics more concerned with scoring radio play than building authenticity with listeners.