As we all know, oddly timed and thick textured songs are the staples of the prog-rock scene, traditionally. Apparently, this doesn’t mean these you won’t find in other genres such as metalcore!
Now, with metal core, there are very good opportunities to come up with something truly beautiful and those bands who understand the genre to its core actually do just that in the form of brilliant vocal harmonies, for instance! Say, quality growling on clean, soulful vocals… mmmm… I personally love it!
Today, I will be talking about a band who pulled all of these… Stealing Axion!
These guys, they know what they are doing… They really know how to use growls in their songs – it is just the right amount. You know how I feel about growls; proper growls can be impossibly brilliant in metal and it’s really amazing how well they can do it.
The bandhails from Pacific Northwest and their bio tells us that were formed in 2009 by Dan Forbrich, Josh DeShazo, and Phil Willmarth. Their first release was in 2010 which was a self release EP. The band recorded Moments with the guitarist and producer Acle Kahney of TesseracT… But I digress; let’s move on to the music itself, shall we?
Stealing Axion is, in my not-so-humble opinion, is one of the most accessible metalcore bands out there. First of all, they cater to a number of different tastes while keeping it at their core genre. And yes, that was a bad pun. On top of that, they are melodic to the correct extent so as to make it accessible to more people!
Going back to ‘catering to a number of different tastes’ their sound could be described as metalcore meets melodic death and fusion with some complex progressive rock flair. To elaborate on that, first off, they definitely do complex stuff – clearly the boys have been experimenting! All songs have emotional touches to them; the drum work is quality and strong; guitar work complements beautifully to both the heavy and the melodic. Tunes are very catchy and I reckon this is their strongest skill as this adds a lot of potential to convert the multitudes. And when I say catchy, really, I mean very catchy choruses you’ll find yourself singing along as well as riffs and heavy melodies you’ll be humming or air-guitaring along! Solos are brilliant as well… It is clear that these guys have a plan!
Now, the key point with these guys is harmony – they have it in the vocals, they have it in the guitars… Their seamless back and forth manoeuvres just make the album so much more entertaining. They also can do a lot of different styles and put them together in very fine ways.
Vocals for instance; they are brilliant and the plural here is because there is growling, clean vocals and screams in perfect unison. If you are not very much into growls already, they might take some getting used to but as a plus, the harmony of the growls with the music is very good and you can understand the lyrics which make them easier to digest. Those who don’t give growls a fair chance will never appreciate them for sure… but if you bear with them, it can be very rewarding as there are many bands out there who can nail it tastefully mixing them with catchy hooks and melodies. Just like the band in question today!
Three of the four members of the band can sing which is saying something. They flow from neat and accessible growls to screams to gentle, beautiful clean vocals… They clearly know their strength in vocals as they use their masterful understanding of the harmony between different styles in abundance! They just deploy the perfect style according to the requirements of the part in question and pull off uniting contrast vocals into a single entity by moving seamlessly between them.
Now, the same thing applies to the guitars. The whole album is full of axe-o-batics the two guitarists deftly deliver, again going back and forth. Josh and Dan pull off very tasteful and satisfying stunts.
Bass lines by Phill are tastefully within the conventions of the genre. If you are one of those people who like to hear a complicated bass line in the front will not be overjoyed by them but they certainly lay a good foundation for the guitars to build awesome tunes.
Aaaaand, very impressive drums there as well! Solid backbone for the band, Blake delivers really tight rhythms and intense beats! The drum work makes good use of other elements on top of a relentless double-bass beats. It plays a huge role on those occasional changes of pace I have mentioned earlier and keeps the listener intrigued all throughout the album…
As for the lyrics, they explain that instead of focussed, concept based storytelling, they prefer to go with a single story for each song to make each and every one of them stand on their own.
[pullquote_right]”We take a somewhat different approach to our lyrical composition. We try to keep each song focused on a single story or concept, while lending to a much larger picture and message. This ultimately leaves room for interpretation by the listener, helping each person to have their own unique experience.” – Josh in their press release[/pullquote_right]Last, but not least, the production is flawless – with so much to discover in this album, it would have been a crime otherwise! Sounds are very rich and fulfilling bringing the band’s awesomeness to the front.
All in all, throughout the album, they never let you zone out – with the ever-changing pace over the course of the album, the richness, the variety make the album very easy to come back to both for a full length spin and for one-off listens. The majority of the songs are heavy and fast paced, loud and outspoken; especially the lot below impressed me very much. And with that, onto the songs!
Eventide mostly have clean vocals – one of the best with the very intriguing rhythm and drum-work! Guitars are just plain awesome creating beautiful soundscapes. The exchange between the distorted guitars and the drums is just beautiful! From Solar’s intro, I get a Seasons in the Abyss vibe which is a very good thing if you are me. This is one of those standing out in the album as after the intro the song does not disappoint! The dissonant intro and growls flowing into deep, emotional clean vocals in Collapse is another high point worth listening. Of course, let’s not forget the beautiful melodies of The Unwanted Gift!… As for It’s Too Late Now, a completely different style is showcased with its clean vocals on distorted guitars. The proof that they have tried everything vocal, Moments Part 1 has deep, clean vocals and the flow from the inspiring solo to distorted guitars is just plain awesome.
As you can undoubtedly tell, I love this album! Such beauty with so much rich and complex foundations… I will come back to it for sure!