Review by Rick Ossian
Going into this particular review, I wasn’t sure if I was the one for the job or not. I must confess to knowing very little about death metal, but decided to forge ahead anyhow. I will also confess to being completely and pleasantly surprised by these guys. Towards the end I even began to appreciate the obvious passion displayed in the vocals as well, which I never thought would occur. My friends and I would always jokingly refer to the death metal vocalists and their craft as ‘Cookie Monster vocals’, but we would stand/sit there and bob our heads along with the tunes anyway. Then one day at a Battle of the Bands I chanced upon an actual, real live death metal singer. So, naturally, I had to ask, didn’t I? He proceeded to tell me that there was far more work to in it then I imagined. I wanted to disagree at first, but after hearing what he had to say I began to understand. Imagine Brian Johnson (AC/DC) trying to sing like Tom Jones or Englebert Humperdink, he said. I said, ‘what?’, rather incredulously. He said, ‘just imagine it’. Well, of course I couldn’t, and he had to go onstage anyway. On with the tunes!
There are several points herein where the riff pockets of the guitarist(s) must be deep. Time after time I found myself rather enjoying the riff, banging my head, and NOT in spite of the vocals! The vocals manage to fit somehow. Therein lies the ultimate conundrum: when does it become too much? Answer – it doesn’t. It really fits. In Hellfire, for example, I couldn’t help but notice that this was another monster riff, almost perfect for an All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween for all you punters) celebration. And the vocals go right along with it. The aural equivalent of a spook show or a haunted house, then!
Checkmate features another wickedly killer riff. There’s no questioning the energy or the talent here, as these fellows crank out an incredibly breakneck pace throughout. Not only that, they can turn on a dime as well, as evidenced by the frequent time changes in this track. About half-way through they return to the pounding core rhythm. The last minute or so is horribly horrifying, menacing, even disturbing at times. Abattoir is another heavy duty number, and features a killer heavy rhythm riff about two minutes in. And, of course, the vocal growling IS pretty intense! The Chromophobes sports thumping drums and a disarming, jarring pace that reaches its peak only in the last minute or so of the song. Another triumph.
Suers Froides (one of several tracks that include French lyrics) is another incredible riff. I found myself head-banging again, and you can ask my wife that doesn’t happen too often around here! It’s been happening a lot more here lately, however… A very strong number, and though I’m not a translator here, I believe it may have something to do with the movie Vertigo. Trois Minutes de Carnage was an easy translate, however — I only had French 101 and 102 and I can tell you what that one means! Three guesses, and the first two don’t count! They were not kidding around with that title, either! The drummer is very busy on this track, and there’s no letting up whatsoever on this pedal-to-the-medal exercise.
Archetype is actually a bit proggy in spots, but don’t fret – it only lasts for a few moments. There is strong structure here, and again there are time changes and shifts that most bands probably wouldn’t dare to attempt. Prototype (title track) is another pleasant surprise, and I am very glad I got the chance to hear it. Try to keep your toes from tapping on this one – I dare you. They Rise is another slammer – they don’t slow down for naught, do they? If I’m not mistaken, I hear two vocalists at work on this one. Rammstein comes to mind when listening to the last number, Bruits Sans Fin. The drummer gets very busy again (he tends to do that quite a bit, doesn’t he?). The fade-out here is actually a bit mellow, believe it or not. But we can’t all be heavy 100 % of the time, now, can we?