To quote Del Tha Funkee Homosapien: just like clockwork, it’s just like clockwork, baby. That is to say, just like clockwork, we’re back after a couple weeks with a new edition of Singles Roundup, the column I’m doing to sort-of replace our old biweekly “Singled Out” feature. This time, there hasn’t been as much music that I’m stoked on, so this one’s only three entries instead of last time’s four, but all three are certainly songs worthy of a blurb. If you’ve got any strong opinions one way or the other on any of the tracks – or even if you don’t – drop your thoughts in the comments section and add your thoughts to the discussion.
Allegaeon – “Proponent for Sentience III: The Extermination”
The second single from the forthcoming Allegaeon album, this track has the band doing their best Gothenburg melodeath impersonation by way of some outstanding vocal guestwork from one Bjorn “Speed” Strid of Soilwork. Strid rides the track with aplomb, and his soaring cleans take the band to a place they really haven’t been before, somewhere spacier and – dare I say? – more “proggy” than they have been. Of course, he’s not the only dude here, and as is usual for Allegaeon, the twin guitar approach they use helps to make the band sound huge, lending a sense of enormous scope and grandeur to the whole affair.
At this point, I wouldn’t say it’s unfair to label these guys as one of, if not the, best example of American melodic death metal and where it’s heading. Allegaeon does a great job of bringing together the more traditional European melodeath scene with the classic death metal sound the States have always offered; what makes their songs so exciting and their albums so engaging is the progressive, almost old-Opeth-y vibes they bring to the table with their melodic sensibility, even when it’s accompanied by blazing-fast tempos and drums to match. They’ve certainly carved a unique niche for themselves with their fusion of the two worlds, and having a vocalist like Strid on here perfectly shows how deftly they can move between both of the styles they bring together.
Inanimate Existence – “Calling From A Dream”
I’m really not sure how I feel about this, to be honest. On the one hand, the Fallujah influence is so obvious and at times overbearing that I’d rather just go listen to Dreamless, but on the other hand, the way these fellow Californian natives bring a variety of other sounds into their technical death metal is a take on the “Fallujah formula” that I’m not sure I’ve ever heard before, and it leaves me wanting more in an odd way. Like, seriously: the first minute or so sounds like it could have been stolen straight from a demo track for the aforementioned Dreamless but that riff immediately following the intro carries such a different melodic phrasing that it’s impossible to totally write this song off as just “a Fallujah ripoff.”
Some direct comparisons do offer themselves up, however: compared to Fallujah’s typical female accompaniment, Tori Letzler, the female vocalist on this track sounds weak, both in tone and emotion, and the Fallujah-ripped sections are so similar that it isn’t hard to reach the point of just rolling one’s eyes and putting on Inanimate Existence’s direct inspiration instead. With all of this in mind, though, the song still isn’t bad, and this band does have two great albums under their belt, so whatever comes next should still be interesting at the very least.
SubRosa – “Killing Rapture”
Melancholic doom may or may not be the next big thing, depending on how well the next Pallbearer album performs with the Pitchfork market. All jokes aside, it’s nice to see a subgenre that has languished in obscurity since the middle of the 90’s finally start to get the attention it deserves in the modern metal scene, and if I could pick a single band to lead the charge into the mainstream, I would probably pick SubRosa. Although at first I wasn’t too big on them, they’ve won me over, and I’d like to believe their slow, somber sound can do the same to any naysayer.
What really sets these guys apart is the combination of clean female vocals and electric violins that add a lush, beautiful texture on top of the monolithic doom metal sound. Instead of these more deft, fine sounds being subsumed by the massive wave of distorted guitar and bass, they stay afloat within that sea, riding the waves and cresting alongside the rest of the band for some intensely emotional, cathartic moments of climax. Plodding, ponderous, and gargantuan, SubRosa takes their sweet time getting you to where they want to you go, but once you’re there, you realize the true beauty of the 10-plus minute journey behind you.