December 20, 2008

CD Review: Autumn Black - The Unborn Tragedy

autumnmain "metal + hardcore + pop = Autumn Black."

That is how the band was described in a press release I received. I guess it fits, although I do not really find their music to be all that poppy. I would like to offer up an easier word to describe their music: metalcore. Allow me to offer a second choice if the first is not to your liking: screamo. While neither may be entirely accurate, it is much easier than going down the metal + hardcore + pop route, which seems to take us into the same territory. Heavy riffs, blast beats, screamed vocals, some clean vocals, and an emotional undercurrent to their surging aggressiveness pretty much sums up the sound.

The band formed a mere four years ago in California. Since their formation they have been seeking to break through with their aggressive music. To that end, they released their debut album in 2006, Beneath the Shadows. It came out on then new label Tyburn Records, which they continue to call home. Now, two years later, they are back with their sophomore effort, which they hope will continue to propel them to new heights. Although, I must admit that this album was the first I have heard them, and since I have read that they have a new singer and drummer, I do not have that comparison. You know what? Give me a minute, I'll be right back...

autumnblack...Okay, I am back. I just hit up YouTube for a taste of the older Autumn Black (I watched the video for the title track from the debut album). Based on that small sample, I must say that I like the old singer and the new drummer. Oh well, can't win them all, but let's get back to The Unborn Tragedy (sounds like a good name for a horror film).

As the opening track, "Unborn Tragedy," begins I was reminded of a recent Hatebreed show I attended. Funny how things make odd seeming connections, no? Well, Hatebreed's drummer, as so many other drummers, has a trigger pad that plays a deep bass note. I am not sure what it is called, but I am sure you know what I am referring to, it is generally hit to make an emphasis in the beat and sounds great live. When I saw the show, I wished he hit it a bit more often. I later figured that would just be a little bit of overkill. I was right, this opening Autumn Black cut overuses that bass sound, and it ruins the song for me. Yes, I found it a bit mediocre to begin with, but the over use of this bass note just sounded awful.

The Unborn Tragedy knows its limits and that it is best taken in small doses. The album is a mere thirty-five minutes long, thereby making sure it does not overstay its welcome. Very smart decision. I found the riffs to be catchy and easy to get into, but not terribly memorable. When it was over, it was over and I was on to the next thing.

What takes this album down a number of notches are the vocals. If Andrew Vargas intends on continuing this style for very long, he may want to be very careful. His voice sounds as if it is on the verge of dying, like his vocal cords are being put through a shredder. It is not all that pleasant to listen to, and I am pretty sure is painful to perform.

What makes the album listenable are those catchy riffs from Ruben Platt and Jonathan Koch. Their work is clean, melodic, and probably sounds good live. Aside from them, the music is awfully middling.

Bottomline. I am sure these guys have their fans, they certainly have the energy. I just do not here anything all that special here, and those vocals are just bad. If they come by, sure I will see them live, but I will not go out of my way.

Not Recommended.


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