Archetypes EP

Written by: TL on 18/12/2012 19:10:56

Phoenix modern hard-rockers Reactions seem like a pretty ambitious young band. I get that from the fact that this is the second EP of theirs that I review already this year, I get that from the Carl Jung inspired concept that seems to run through the title of both record and songs and I get that from the care that has obviously been invested in the production here. When you listen to the consistently peculiar intros and outros to the songs on the EP, and to the many occasions of faded ambiance, samples and backing vocals that show up, you just get the feeling that these guys try to pay attention to the details needed to create a full experience on record.

So why the **** do they seem so utterly unaware of the fact that the actual meat and bones of their music - the riffs, the rhythms and the vocals - all come out painstakingly mediocre? Normally you're supposed to learn things the other way around, aren't you? This is the second EP in a row from the band where I start out getting the feeling that here's a new contender in the branch of modern hard rock inhabited by bands like Anberlin and I Am Empire, yet consistently struggle to keep my attention on the record while it's playing.

The reason is simple: For all the cosmetics that Reactions so carefully apply, the base material just really is not very interesting. Outside of the intro and verse to leading single "The Missing" you'll have to look hard for anything remotely memorable in the instrumental department. Furthermore, the dominating clean vocals sound the same moving from verses to choruses - that is you don't get that surge in intensity that you expect in this genre - and the screams are faded to the background at almost every turn, coming in with such a slow sense of timing that one wonders why the band even includes them at all.

In fairness, there are a few bright spots. I like that balladic "The Anima" showcases a different arrangement from one verse to the other, and I like that closing track "The Animus" comes off as a halfway decent metalcore track when the band switches to the classic harsh verse/clean chorus formula and sounds more metallic overall... But "The Animus" is the least representative of the band's sound, and outside of it, I just can't seem to find any power in either individual parts or the dynamics between them.

I want to respect that the band sound like they're making a concentrated effort to get all the details right in putting together a release, but the short of it is that the core constituents are what matters and they are just still too average. So I'm giving this a 5. Not because "Archetypes" is half a grade worse than "Under My Skin", but because I keep getting the feeling that this could be good, yet I get increasingly frustrated with the band when the overall product still comes out so lacklustre.


Download: The Anima, The Missing, The Animus
For The Fans Of: Anberlin, older The Classic Crime, I Am Empire,

Release Date 19.06.2012

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