Across the Sun

Before The Night Takes Us

01. Tipping the Scales
02. Song for the Hopeless
03. Seasons
04. Descent & Discovery
05. Ghosts of Grandeur
06. Before the Night Takes Us
07. A Moment of Clarity
08. Blessing in Disguise
09. In the Face of Adversity
10. Belay My Judgement

[03/15/11]
[Metal Blade Records]

I’ve mentioned previously that it took me some time to get into Portland’s Across the Sun, and my sentiments are worth repeating; despite the cited progressive metal influence and labeling via recommendation, Across the Sun felt more like Killswitch Engage with keyboards and a more profound sense of melody and direction. This isn’t such a bad thing at all despite my slightly flippant tone, seeing as how I “grew up” on Killswitch (so to speak) and any improvement on that style is welcome. Good lord, is it ever welcome.

With their debut full-length album Before The Night Takes Us, Across the Sun will no doubt be breaking through from the underground unsigned scene, where they released three EPs that gained them a dedicated following. It’s not hard to imagine why; their use of keys and a prog influence was a breath of fresh air in a tired genre. While these nuances are certainly not new to the area of metalcore, I can’t really peg a band that sounds exactly like Across The Sun. While they wear their influences on their sleeves and you can pick out the various derivatives, there’s something unique about Across The Sun and their approach at metalcore. This will undoubtedly work in their favor as they become a stand out band in the genre.

It’s always a good sign when a band of this caliber can write riffs that aren’t directly aping the Gothenburg style. There are definite hints of that across Before The Night Takes Us, but they’re fused with speedy power metal and thrash riffs and leads that add a touch of nuance.  Flourishes of keyboards also add depth to the sound, whether out in front or building up an atmosphere. The guitar work is interesting enough on its own to hold attention, but it’s safe to say that without the inclusion of the brilliant keyboard parts, this just might have been another generic metalcore album. Let’s hope they don’t pull a Soilwork and start mixing out the keys as they go on.

The vocal parts also make the album quite memorable. Speaking as an avid fan of hooks and melodies, there are plenty to be found here and they’re well crafted, for the most part. Vocalist Brandon Davis’ singing voice takes some getting used to; something about the tone of his voice gives off a less than enthusiastic first impression. He’s a grower though, and the melodic content certainly saves his performance. Luckily, the band doesn’t rely on him as the sole deliverer of hooks and can stand apart on an instrumental front, as most evidenced on the album’s only instrumental track, “A Moment Of Clarity.” His harsh vocals are on par for the course, although they aren’t as prominently featured. Most metalcore bands tend to lose a bit of dynamic when they rely too heavily on a clean vocal delivery (just spin the latest All That Remains and Killswitch Engage records, for instance), but Across the Sun actually makes it work without being mind-numbingly boring.

Before The Night Takes Us is a solid first impression, overall. Across the Sun manage to add subtle hints of classic progressive and power metal into the tired genre of metalcore to create a standout album that while not exactly groundbreaking, is still a fun album that beats the hell out of most of their contemporaries.

Across The Sun – Before The Night Takes Us gets…

3.5/5

– JR

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