A Subtle Understatement

Vestige EP

Written by: MST on 25/08/2011 21:57:52

And now for something I don't usually listen to. A Subtle Understatement are a young metalcore/deathcore band from Nantes, France. Shortly after their late 2008 inception they released their first demo, and now their first real release sees the light of day. With 5 songs spanning across 25 minutes of playtime, it is not just a short EP meant to prepare the listener for a full-length.

The first thing that jumps at me is the vocals. But unfortunately not in a good way. I've heard people criticize the vocals of former The Faceless vocalist Derek Rydquist for being too monotonous. Those critics do not want to listen to ASU. On top of being completely monotonous, the growls sound way too hollow, lacking the edge that growled vocals need to have to be interesting. When singer Jérémie turns to semi-screams it is another story though. Although that kind of vocals are used by almost everybody (and they don't sound very different here) they're executed properly and sound good. It's just too bad that the vocals on the EP are mostly just growls. Now, moving on to the music. ASU play a mix of metalcore and deathcore that avoids the worst things about both genres. There are none of the whiny clean vocal sections that many metalcore bands love, and the breakdowns (of course, there has to be breakdownz) aren't br00tal like most deathcore bands prefer them. Those two things make ASU tolerable in my book. The band even experiment with changes in tempo and mood in a way that at times reminds me of the Danish metalcore band Vira.

Album opener "Cronos" sends the album off to a promising start with some good melodies, catchy vocal lines and some experimenting here and there. But apparently that's not what ASU want. They want to be generic. "Vestige" starts off quite nicely with some catchy melodies and a good solo, but then the breakdown comes and the first part is practically copy+pasted in only to be followed by another breakdown. A video has been shot for the song "Gravity", and that song is about as run-of-the-mill as they get. It's predictable, the breakdowns are, well, also predictable. Did I mention the vocals earlier? Closing track "04:00 AM" has a nice Vira-esque ending, but that doesn't salvage the rest of the album.

The musicianship showcased on "Vestige" (except for the vocals) deserves no critique, but the originality does. A Subtle Understatement need to find themselves a better vocalist or make him abandon those "growls" forever, and then they have a choice: either they play generic whatevercore that probably sells alright, or they experiment more, focus less on breakdowns and actually do something that is entirely their own thing instead of adding themselves to the list of bands that do more or less exactly the same.

Download: Cronos
For The Fans Of: Annotations Of An Autopsy, Vira,
Listen: Myspace

Release date 06.05.2011
Ultimhate Records

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