Written by: BL on 08/04/2012 02:50:55

Being such a long time listener of metalcore has not stopped even myself from recognising the stagnant nature the scene is in right now. Too many young bands filling the ranks, but too few able to lead the pack and there's the same trends getting regurgitated over and over again. I would have thought initially that Adestria, this new outfit formed of a pack of six from San Diego, would be no different. And at least initially indeed, I was right. But, their debut "Chapters", for all its lack of innovation and utilising pretty much everything I've already heard before, is still somehow a surprisingly robust and enjoyable album, more so than most I've heard for a while in the genre.

First off, Nick Sampson (from I Am Abomination) did a great job with the production. I want my metalcore to pack a punch, to strike with enough force to shatter bones. "Chapters" not only sounds thundering, but there's also care given to all the other more subtle parts, like samples, keyboards and electronics placed throughout. Yes, there's a keyboard player who adds some of the usual programmed parts in the background you get in this kind of music now, but there's also a lot of cool strings, delicate piano and other little melodies or sounds - ala In Fear And Faith. Adestria can do more than show gimmicks though as the first song "Compromised" clearly illustrates, especially once you get past the totally unnecessary dubstep samples in the beginning (a small mistep). Their guitar players show a respectable amount of skill and finesse in their array of riffs and lead licks here and there. There's a smattering of breakdowns which is inescapable, but Adestria manage to make a lot of them work. They don't overpopulate the heavy sections and instead a lot of the songs rely on solid riffing (in the vein of As I Lay Dying and I Am Abomination) combo-ed with fine drum work.

"1984" and "Whiskey For The Soul" continue down a good path laid out, even managing to add a few decent choruses where vocalist Matt Anderson shows us he's got a competent (but not amazing) clean voice beyond one song as well as his usual ferocious screams. Mind you, the fact that there are clean vocals doesn't mean they become a necessary component in every song. "The Odyssey" for example avoids them altogether, yet still retains enough melody to sound interesting despite the onslaught of breakdowns, which hell even sound pretty cool here. "Outsiders" and "Defy The Stars" meanwhile are similar in their appeal in melodies, where great guitars and keyboards lay the foundation for some definitely enjoyable moments, but Matt's vocals never miss a beat and the choruses especially are arguably the best on the album.

"More Than You Know" dresses the action down somewhat more than I feel is necessary by this stage in the album. But it turns out not to even be an interlude at all and instead actually breaks into a full blown song near the end, reaching a heavy crescendo after some soft spoken singing and piano buildup. "The Masquerade" is far more straightforward in comparison, but at the same time show why it's better for Adestria to keep things moving with more urgency, their style just suits faster and more energetic songs. "This Ship, A Coffin" I could have mistaken for another In Fear And Faith track with its piano, strings, and some very similar themes in the lyrics but is otherwise relatively decent in its own right, but does recycle a bit of what's come before too much to really standout. "Scarlet Letter" is much better though, and ends the album on a nice note with more fun heavy verse passages, and ofcourse the In Fear And Faith references is complete as Scott Barnes (In Fear And Faith lead vocalist) does a pretty soulful guest spot right at the death.

It's fair to say that this album won't be blowing minds, and nor should it. "Chapters" when you look at it objectively, is all standard metalcore but Adestria at least ensure you get a complete package that mixes various elements of the genre well. It's not perfect, and definitely not as consistent as it could be but that's not a dealbreaker when there's enough positives to take away. As for me, I know I'll definitely be keeping a couple of the songs in my playlist rotation in the coming days.

Download: Outsiders, Defy The Stars, Scarlet Letter
For the fans of: In Fear And Faith, As I Lay Dying, The Devil Wears Prada, I Am Abomination
Listen: Facebook

Release date 27.03.2012
Artery Recordings

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