Archive for February, 2008

5IVE – Hesperus (2008)

Posted in 2008 Music, Reviews on February 27, 2008 by monopolyphonic

5ive - Hesperus NOTE: This 5ive totally separate and distinct from the UK boy band of the same name.

I had honestly thought I’d seen the last of 5ive with The Hemophiliac Dream; that EP came out six years ago, and with Pelican (the band who stepped up to fill the void for me) getting tamer and tamer with each release, to say that I was anticipating this new full length would be understatement. I suppose it’s fitting, then, that to say I am disappointed with what the band have presented on Hesperus is also an understatement.

Much of this is due to the fact that the album sounds a lot like some of the newer material by Pelican (material that by and large left me underwhelmed). Both bands, it seems, have taken a similar career path. 5ive’s (and Pelican’s) early approach to music was more philosophical; they were less concerned with what they could do musically and more concerned with what they could do sonically. 5ive’s self-titled album and The Telestic Disfracture are freak, minimalist anomalies from hell. The songs on both albums are very simple, but are so huge at the same time that they’re impossible to ignore. Their simplicity is trance-inducing and sublime. But it seems both bands are now content to try and force that audacious rawness into discernible songs, with discernible melodies. And it doesn’t really work.

Early 5ive could rival Sunn O))) in terms of sheer magnitude, and the opening of Gulls sounds a lot like Sunn O))). It’s heavy, it’s brooding, but then suddenly, the song switches gears into something different entirely. The tempo-less miasma is destroyed by the snare drum. And the guitars immediately come in, and they sound much smaller. More than that though, they sound human. They’re something comprehendible now, and it’s not impressive.

Unfortunately, this guitar sound is favored by 5ive for most of Hesperus. After Gulls concludes, Big Sea begins, and the guitar sound is even smaller. It’s exposed, and totally lacking in menace; tone-wise, it’s similar to (but not exactly) like what Pelican used in Aurora Borealis. The whole opening sounds like a long-lost Tool outtake, and the actual song itself wavers between moments similar to the band’s old style and the band’s new style. Again, it doesn’t really work. The old moments are botched by overly-busy drumwork, and the newer moments fail to transition smoothly or sustain themselves with anything interesting. The quieter sections of Big Sea are especially unpleasant, as they glaringly expose the band’s shortcomings as songwriters.

Ironically, it’s the shortest song on Hesperus that winds up being one of the most memorable. Heel is barely two minutes long, but it works at that length, due in large part to some Tom Morello-esque guitar manipulation. From Heel on out, every song gets longer, but most of them fail in some way or another to make an impact. Polar 78 begins at a muted decibel level (for 5ive, anyways), slowly builds, but never reaches the colossal heights of older songs like The Baron or Cerrado. Again, the band are working with melody and nuance here, and if Hesperus has taught me anything, it’s that neither of those things are a strong point of the band’s. Next up is News I which spends six minutes slogging through a sea of half-realized guitar riffs before finally reaching a moment of genuine power. The last two minutes of News I sound like the 5ive of old, but in the end, you’ve got to wonder if it’s worth six minutes of mediocrity to experience two of glory.

News II is the only track on the album that feels like a 5ive song. It lulls your brain into that elusive space that’s typically inhabited only by daydreamers or meditating monks. The energy level is primal and ferocious. Everything in the song is necessary, and it concludes on such a pitch-perfect note that it belies the quality of everything that’s come before it.

5ive’s earlier material worked because it was murky and obtuse. Even when the band weren’t sonically at full capacity, their music was still ominous and threatening, and liable to explode at any second. Hesperus doesn’t do much exploding. And when it does, all it accomplishes is instilling a sense of dissatisfaction in the listener for not exploding more.

HD RATING: 4/10

VAMPIRE WEEKEND – Vampire Weekend (2008)

Posted in 2008 Music, Reviews on February 24, 2008 by monopolyphonic

Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend have had one hell of a year so far, and it’s only February. Their first album debuted at number 17 on The Billboard 200 and they recently performed on The Late Show with David Letterman. Add to that the fact that every magazine and blog in existence is showering the band with praise, and you’ve now got a clear frontrunner for the highly prestigious “Indie Phenom of the Year” award. Like Deerhunter and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah before them, Vampire Weekend seemed imbued with a special destiny to accrue accolades without even really doing anything.

So. How good is the music on this album? Well, not nearly as good as everyone makes it out to be.

For starters, the album is decidedly frontloaded. The three best songs on the disc are…yep, you guessed it, the first three: Mansard Roof, Oxford Comma and A-Punk. These songs best showcase the band’s blend of worldbeat and indie pop. Oxford Comma is the clearly the most successful of the three; it’s light Caribbean verses contrast brilliantly against the pop chorus, which rockets forward on wave of bliss, before crashing into the shore of the next verse.

This isn’t to discount the the other two songs (which, unsurprisingly, were singles number one and two from the album, respectively). Mansard Roof (which was actually released as a single back in October of 2007) is great song to kick the album off and introduce us to the band’s style. It’s got an infectious beat, guided ever so slightly by drifting keyboards and strings. And at a little over two minutes, it’s the perfect length. A-Punk makes great use of a synthesized flute throughout, and it’s interesting to hear a bass actually rise above a guitar, pitch-wise, during the verses.

The first three songs are a joy to listen to. But it’s all downhill from there. Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, the fourth track, has only one flaw, but it’s major: it’s annoyingly repetitious. Now, repetition in pop music is to be expected, but the offending phrase here only two bars long, and it loops for essentially the entire three and a half minutes. When it finally does stop, it does so only to make way for a dull and needless vocalization interlude. And guess what? When the interlude ends, the phrase returns. Wonderful.

What’s really bothersome about Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, though, is that it’s essentially like a pseudo-pop cover of a worldbeat song, and not a genuine fusion of the two genres, like Oxford Comma was. This is frustrating to experience, because when you know the band are capable of doing something better, it’s hard to enjoy what they’re giving you in its place.

Although the album isn’t even 35 minutes long, it could stand to be even shorter. To paraphrase Roger Ebert, there’s a wonderful two minute song in the three minute Boston. The same is (semi) true for the aforementioned Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, as well as One and Walcott. Again, this is frustrating because we know the band don’t have an aversion to making simple, declarative songs. So why insist on dragging out a song once it’s overstayed it’s welcome?

While the backend of this album is far from great, it isn’t a total failure, either. Campus and Walcott are enjoyable, not in the least because they’re basically straight up pop songs. But neither song is perfect. As I mentioned earlier, Walcott is overly long, and the end is plagued by several unnecessary climaxes. And Campus spends too much time delaying its chorus, and doesn’t repeat it enough when it arrives. By the time The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance rolls around, it’s all starting to sound the same. The problem with most of these latter songs is that they’re too breezy, too thin in their construction to leave any sort of lasting impression on me.

Frankly, I don’t see what the fuss around this album is about. It tries to do too much, and doesn’t really succeed at all the areas its covering at the same time. As a pop album, it doesn’t work because the formula wears the listener down, instead of lifting them up. As worldbeat, the album is too familiar and unadventurous. And in the sheer exuberance department, Vampire Weekend have nothing on bands like I’m From Barcelona. It’s possible that this album will grow on me. I’ve rescinded my opinion on unusual music like this before (the most notable example from last year is Dan Deacon). But for now, I stand by my 6 out of 10.

HD RATING: 6/10

THIS WILL DESTROY YOU – This Will Destroy You (2008)

Posted in 2008 Music, Reviews on February 23, 2008 by monopolyphonic

This Will Destroy You - This Will Destroy YouPost-rock EPs, if done correctly, can be quite effective (Exhibit A: Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada). This might seem counter-intuitive, as post-rock is a genre that typically requires a lot of breathing room to work. After all, it takes The New Pornographers three minutes and Tortoise seven to do the same thing. Were someone to make a list of successful post-rock EP’s, This Will Destroy You’s debut, Young Mountain, would definitely be on it, even though it’s status as an EP is questionable (it runs for 36 minutes).

A year and change later, the band have followed up Young Mountain with a self-titled full length, an album which finds the band refining the sound that they put forth on their EP. This Will Destroy You have more of an artificial element in their music than most post-rock bands, frequently cascading their songs around layers of noise and electronic manipulation. They’re not as schizophrenic as, say, 65daysofstatic are, but their music lacks the lived-in feel of bands like A Silver Mt. Zion.

None of this is bad. Indeed, This Will Destroy You succeed admirably with this approach. Take for example, the album opener A Three-legged Workhorse, which begins with slick noise and sustained, trembling guitars. Slowly, an electronic drumbeat emerges; the noise evaporates and a guitar comes in, carrying the melody. It’s interesting to note that although the guitar is the focal point here, it’s the drumbeat that makes it work. It creates a cold atmosphere, contrasting with a guitar that would, by itself, sound warm.

And then a curious thing happens. Another drumbeat appears, this one not digital. The original beat is still floating around in the background, just enough to keep the cold atmosphere intact, but the physical drumwork is now center stage. The song is louder now, and we’re poised for the song to change from cold to warm. And it does. And it’s beautiful. But rather than keep the song going to where, at this point, it’s naturally headed, the band submerge this section under more noise, which pulses in and out, marring the beauty, then revealing it.

Forgive the structural analysis, but it’s all illustrative of the fact that This Will Destroy You really know what they’re doing. They know the elements of the post-rock genre (texture, atmosphere, dynamics), they know how the song structure of the genre works, but at the same time they’re utilizing it, they’ll throw in new things to keep listeners on their toes. The band’s sense of dynamics are especially attuned. Sometimes, the changes will be immense and terrifying, like those found in Threads, calling to mind bands like Explosions In The Sky. Sometimes, they’ll be slow and pronounced, like the opening crescendo of The Mighty Rio Grande, which lasts for over four minutes. Other times, the crests will be quicker, but still intense, reminding me of Stars of the Lid, like in the beginning of Villa Del Refugio. Actually, that song is great example of post-rock dynamics in general; the entire thing is just a series of various swells and fades, interwoven together with such precision, you’d swear that Matthew Cooper of Eluvium was somehow involved.

As good as the album is, however, the band occasionally falter. The biggest offender here is middle song of the album, Leather Wings, which doesn’t really lead anywhere (fortunately, the song is only three and a half minutes long, so its failure is forgivable). And sometimes the mix gets a little crowded, like at the end of The Mighty Rio Grande, which is a lovely song, but whose final moments are spent with too many elements competing for the listener’s attention. But these are minor, shortcomings of a great post-rock album. That the band doesn’t make good on the promise of its namesake is inconsequential; they’re good enough on this album to make you believe that they could, if they really wanted to. But they’d rather not.

HD RATING: 9/10

THE MOUNTAIN GOATS – Heretic Pride (2008)

Posted in 2008 Music, Reviews on February 21, 2008 by monopolyphonic

The Mountain Goats - Heretic PrideHeretic Pride is John Darnielle’s best album in since 2002’s All Hail West Texas, and when your musical output is as prolific as his, that’s really saying something (hell, it’s so prolific that I can’t say “best album in six years”, because Tallahassee also came out in 2002). A lot of people have taken issue with Darnielle’s music since he’s set aside the “me and my guitar against the world” aesthetic, but it’s really worked for him. Albums like We Shall All Be Healed and The Sunset Tree can stand up against the likes of Sweden. The precise production on those albums is, after all, only a veneer that Darnielle’s talent as a songwriter bursts almost too easily through. When Get Lonely came out in 2006, I didn’t know that he had it in him to make an album that was so fragile. Albums like that come naturally to the Sam Beam’s of the world, but Darnielle pulled a fast one on everybody, adding a new chapter to his canon after fifteen years of releasing music.

The same haunting frailty of Get Lonely carries over to a few songs on Heretic Pride, most notably San Bernardino, a song made of the swelling of lush viola and jittery, soft pizzicato strings. It perfectly captures the strength of a young love finding its place in the world, and of a new life entering into it. So Desperate is another such song, a curious throwback to the John Darnielle of old, the man who shouted about love and Colt .45’s in Going To Georgia. It’s just as bare as his earlier work (the crystal-clear production notwithstanding), but he no longer sounds like he’s about to explode in the name of love. As the chorus indicates, he’s conflicted (“I felt so desperate/in your arms”), but the understatement here ironically makes the conflict even simpler than the kind he expressed back in his lo-fi days.

Get Lonely might have exclusively focused on the more melancholy side of Darnielle’s oeuvre, but Heretic Pride is more diverse in the places that it reaches into. In The Craters On The Moon proceeds ominously, being pushed forward in its final moments by a crescendoing snare drum. Other songs, like the opener Sax Rohmer #1 and Lovecraft In Brooklyn actually slip out of the folk-rock realm, smuggled out under electric (!) guitars and studio trickery (multi-layered vocals). Of the two, Lovecraft In Brooklyn is inarguably more of a rock song, but Sax Rohmer #1 is the better song of the two. More than that, though, it’s one hell of an album opener. Darnielle hasn’t kicked off an album this well since The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton, which lead us into All Hail West Texas.

And speaking of death metal (or black metal, in this case), Marduk T-Shirt Men’s Room Incident is, despite the misleading title, one of the strongest songs on the album. It conveys a sense of loneliness better than any songs on Get Lonely (with the possible exception of Woke Up New). The simple chorus (“weightless/formless/blameless/nameles”) features The Bright Mountain Choir, who add another voice to the fleeting encounter that occurs in the song.

I’ve listened to Heretic Pride several times now, and one of the things I’ve come to notice about the album is how many of the songs on it begin with a similar rhythm (it’s heard at the beginning of Sax Rohmer #1, Autoclave, In The Craters of the Moon and How To Embrace A Swamp Creature, among others), but how all of these songs go off in a different direction, despite their shared openings. In a way, that’s really what’s best about Heretic Price: the songs, all of them great, all head off to different destinations. This isn’t the first album by The Mountain Goats to progress like this (2005’s The Sunset Tree progressed in much the same manner), but it’s definitely the best.

HD RATING: 9.5/10

NOTE: The Press Kit for this album is a mini comic book. Check it out, if you’re interested.

AYREON – 01011001 (2008)

Posted in 2008 Music, Reviews on February 20, 2008 by monopolyphonic

Ayreon - 01011001You’ve got to hand it to Arjen Anthony Lucassen: no one in the metal realm can get a better collective of guest musicians together better than him. Arjen’s latest effort under the Ayreon moniker features over a dozen vocalists and instrumentalists, including Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guaridan), Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain of Salvation), Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering), Tom S. Englund (Evergrey), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), Michael Romeo (Symphony X), Derek Sherinian (ex-Dream Theater), Ty Tabor (King’s X), Jørn Lande (Ark) and Floor Jansen (After Forever).

01011001 comes four years after the release of the band’s last album, The Human Equation. The diverse and talented guest musicians on that release (including Devin Townsend, James LaBrie of Dream Theater and Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth, to name a few), coupled with the album’s infectious melodies more than made up for the album’s flaws (some truly awful lyrics and concept that was more than a little ridiculous at times). Even with the flaws, however, The Human Equation is still a damn good album. It’s certainly the best of the Ayreon catalogue, and its success comes largely due to Arjen scaling back his vision from the omniversal to the personal, while still keeping things musically as epic as possible.

Though the idea of man coming to grips with his emotions and personality while in a coma is overbearing at times, in the end, the grandiosity of the whole thing becomes kind of charming. Arjen, for better or worse, is at least attempting to make a point with the album (what it is to be a human versus what it is to be an individual – that’s what I got out of it, anyways). And after all, you can’t honestly make progressive metal without a little grandiosity, because it’s primarily grandiosity that defines the characteristics of the genre.

With 01011001, Arjen has once again shifted his sights back towards the cosmos. The plot-line of the album is tied to events that occurred in The Universal Migrator and Into The Electric Castle. The first disc of the album (Disc Y) begins promisingly with Age of Shadows, a song that has everything an Ayreon song should have: larger-than-life melodies, interweaving, multi-layered vocals (from several singers – Anneke from The Gathering ends up stealing the show) all backed with ominous and spacey synths. The song is nearly eleven minutes long, but everything is woven together so expertly that it feels like five. It’s a shame that after Age of Shadows, Disc Y falters regularly and never really recovers.

Comatose and Connect The Dots are Disc Y’s worst offenders. Both songs are bland filler, with former drifting through a lifeless, amusical purgatory and the latter being a shoddy and ineffective political “ballad.” Connect The Dots reminds me a lot of Pain of Salvation’s Scarsick (I love Pain of Salvation, but don’t get me started on Scarsick); it has the same defeatist attitude, the same passionless portrayal of real issues that affect the world today.

There are a few actual Ayreon moments buried in the remaining collection of generally ho-hum songs. Beneath The Waves concludes on a high note, after taking four minutes or so to get off the ground and Liquid Eternity eventually emerges as a song out of a formless ambient background; it also contains the disc’s best musical section, a brief interlude with flute, violin and synth, before crashing into the next chorus.

The saddest case on Disc Y for me was New Born Race, a song that fails despite that best efforts of Daniel Gildenlöw, arguably the best vocalist in all of metal right now. That song leads into the forgettable duo that closes the album out: Ride The Comet and Web of Lies. Of the two, Web of Lies is a particularly tragic casuality, as the music (a sweet ballad) is ruined by terrible lyrics centering around an Internet relationship.

Much of the beginning of the second disc, Disc Earth, is spent trying to wade out of the music doldrums that Disc Y slipped into. The Fifth Extinction and Waking Dreamsboth feature an unnecessary amount of synth work. Now, synths like the ones used here can be very effective (a good example would be The Past Is A Grotesque Animal from Of Montreal’s latest album), but on these tracks, they’re worse than just being cheesy (remember, this is progressive metal, where cheesiness is not a sin) – they’re downright annoying, the musical equivalent of the little dog across the street the barks all night and keeps all the neighbors in a sleepless, communal hell.

Disc Earth is at its best when the songs are shorter and the music is more organic. The disc’s highlights, The Truth Is In Here and River of Time, both have a heavy folk influence. River of Time is the disc’s best track, centering around a mix of violin and flute. Its bright, upbeat melodies are a welcome change of pace from the homogeny that’s present in much of the preceding material.

The disc’s (and the album’s) penultimate track, The Sixth Extinction is an accurate representation of 01011001 as a whole. It’s the album’s longest track, at a little over twelve minutes long, but it’s horribly uneven. For every moment of progressive metal brilliance (including an excellent section with pummeling drums and death growls, a musical element missed sorely by me on 01011001, especially after witnessing how effective they could be on The Human Equation), there seems to be an equal or greater number of filler sections in the song. These sections are the bane of both the final track and the album, bogging it down in a swamp of mediocrity. When The Sixth Extinction finally ends, the only lingering feeling is unfulfillment, a feeling that’s only amplified if you’ve listened to 90+ minutes of music on 01011001 as whole.

Arjen seems to be getting lost in the world he’s created, and I don’t mean that in a good way. He’s too concerned with the narrative of his work on 01011001, and not concerned enough about how well his narrative ideas will translate into music. Of all the material on this album, only half of it is really worth taking in. Perhaps the next time Arjen rounds up a crew of the metal elite, he’ll put their talents – and his – to better use.

HD RATING: 5/10

BLACK MOUNTAIN – In The Future (2008)

Posted in 2008 Music, Reviews on February 16, 2008 by monopolyphonic

Black Mountain - In The Future Certain instrument pairings inevitably call to mind certain time periods: the harpsichord and violin, for example, recall the Baroque era. And the moog and fuzzed out guitars recall the early 1970’s. An era before Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd were household names, before prog had degenerated from a bonafide musical revolution into a dirty word, and several years before I was born.

Black Mountain don’t exactly play prog on In The Future (or their eponymous debut from 2005, for that matter), but they frequently flirt with it. The best example of this comes with the nearly seventeen minute Bright Lights, which floats slowly into space in a haze of moog and organ smoke, propelled by solemn guitars. And then the bass kicks in (yes! bass! remember bass?). And then the whole thing explodes, and fades, and explodes again, before releasing itself into silence. It’s a cold and powerful experience, and is definitely the album’s biggest highlight.

Following Bright Lights is no easy task, but Night Walks does an excellent job sending the album off in a tempo-less keyboard shroud. There’s practically no guitar here; only at the end does it surface. And when it does, it’s faint, like one last light from a distant planet flickering into nothingness. Constrast this with the beginning of the album: Stormy High begins with mightily with a riff plucked ripe from decades past. It’s not terribly fast, but it’s persistent; the song never outruns itself. It’s refreshing to hear that after listening to the latest Mars Volta debacle, where the mindset seemed to be “cram as many ideas into one songs as possible and plausibility be damned!”

Another standout track on the album, Tyrants succeeds not because of it’s instrumentation, but through the dual vocals Stephen McBean and Amy Webber. Some of the harmonies they create called to mind some material on Rusted Root’s 1994 album When I Woke; there’s a dynamic sorrow present in both instances, and it transcends the genre barrier nicely, be it in the realm of neo-tribal jam band or the summit of a Black Mountain*.

The band only stop to de-fuzz their guitars once, on Stay Free, an album that consists primarily of gentle acoustic guitar and McBean’s vocals. I don’t know if I could take an entire album’s worth of this material, but Stay Free certainly works well in the context of the rest of In The Future. The song was included on the Spider-Man 3 Soundtrack (whose tracklist is alarmingly indie-heavy for a $200+ million motion picture). When the band perform on Late Night With Conan O’Brien next week, I’ll wager that Stay Free is going to get played.

It’s possible that In The Future might be the most ironically named album of the year. Black Mountain’s music looks forward, from the past, to a future that does not, at present, exist. In The Future is hardly revolutionary, but paradoxically, it also is the herald of a revolution that is, perhaps, still yet to come. More than anything else, In The Future is a reminder of just how good an older genre of music can be in the hands of the right people with the right balance of skill, heart, and faith in the future**.

HD RATING: 8.5/10

* = A horrible pun. I apologize.
** = Another one, equally bad. Sorry, but it felt right.

EDIT: Okay, so I was wrong. The band actually played Stormy High on Conan, not Stay Free.

MACHINAE SUPREMACY – Overworld (2008)

Posted in 2008 Music, Reviews on February 14, 2008 by monopolyphonic

Machinae Supremacy - Overworld You know who I really dislike? HORSE the Band (not the similarly named Band of Horses, who are excellent). Their take on metal is fascinating for about the three songs; listen for any longer than that, and it’s ruined for you forever. I can commend the band for trying something new, but it just doesn’t stay compelling over time. In the end, their brand of “nintendocore” comes off as a novelty.

The same is true for Machinae Supremacy…sort of. For starters, they don’t really play nintendocore (which, to my surprise, is a real sub-genre of music, and not just a one-off label invented by HORSE the Band), instead opting for a mix of alternative, traditional metal and digi-synth tones. Also, their music isn’t nearly as grating and obnoxious on repeated listens.

Both bands achieve their retro-fitted sound by way of synthesizers: Machinae Supremacy utilize an Elektron SidStation synthesizer, the heart of which is the SID chip (which was used in the Commodore 64). HORSE the Band have in the past used the Korg MS2000 analog synthesizer, the Roland Juno-D synthesizer, and the LSDJ Gameboy cart (which effectively converts the handheld system into a 4-bit electronic sequencer). I say this not because the technology itself is important to consider when listening to the music, but instead to point out that even in metal/video game sub-genres, there are basic creative differences.

You get the feeling while listening to Machinae Supremacy that they don’t take their music completely seriously. And that’s a good thing. It’s no wonder that the best song on the album is their cover of Britney Spears’ “Gimme More” – the band are having a fun time interpreting a trash-pop chart-topper, and the end result is unexpectedly catchy and enjoyable, reminding me of Tub Ring’s Teen Beat Medley (which, coincidentally, also features a Britney Spears cover).

Elsewhere on the album, Machinae Supremacy don’t mess with their musical template much. Sometimes they’re more metal than alternative (Conveyer & Violator), and sometimes they’re the opposite (the title track). Sometimes, they do a semi-ballad (Skin), and sometimes they journey into space-rock territory (the closing track Stand). The last two examples actually work best with the band’s instrumentation, but sadly, Machinae Supremacy don’t sustain these styles throughout the songs: the alterna-metal eventually kicks back in, and the songs proceed from there as they must. It’s a shame. I would’ve liked to see the band work with these styles over the course of an entire song, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for Overworld.

For all the talk I did earlier about synths, it may be surprising to hear that the band largely keep them out of the foreground of Overworld; they typically act as an ambient layer, periodically rushing to the surface in a flourish. Their primary purpose seems to be to introduce the songs: half the songs on the album start with a synth intro. If I didn’t know about nintendocore (which, again, this technically isn’t), I’d say that must be some kind of record.

So, all in all, this review was pretty positive towards Overworld. So why the 6/10? Well, because when you get down to it, Overworld isn’t much else besides a good alternative/metal album. Of which there are hundreds upon hundreds. Sure, it’s stylistically better than its nintendocore counterparts, but I’m just not sure what’s gained fusing the 8-bit realm to the metal one. Truthfully, if you’re going to do this, something along the lines of The Minibosses might be the best way to go.

HD RATING: 6/10