NORTH - What You Were Release Date: July 15th, 2008
Record Label: Cavity Records
A part of me thinks NORTH has jumped the shark with this new album; the more accepting part of me, the part of me that gave this, regrettably, much more than it deserved. It’s not a surprise to be honest as I've always been the kind of person who didn't particularly enjoy that one metal kid who is seemingly in every group of friends. Was it so rash to have pegged his ardent following of the genre to be the result of an alcoholic father and an excuse for every bruise come school time? I'm up for reading about the pale horses and the apocalypse if a report calls for it, but do I really have to listen to bad poetry about them being grunted and groaned? My answer has always been 'no'. That's why I was able to withstand and, yes, enjoy NORTH for at least nixing the worst aspect about metal bands and even adding in some spacey atmosphere. With What You Were, though, the band chose to not only add a vocalist to the lineup but also brought HeavyHeavyLowLow's Rob Smith in for some guest vocal work. Awesome?
Hardly. “Ghosts Among Us” tore my spine out, and all I had to do was look at the press sheet that clearly stated I should be expecting something different out of NORTH. What they expressed without words on Ruins has been substituted for unintelligible screams, transcribed in the booklet with such gems as, “I did this all for you/I am death/And yet alone I stay.” Am I listening to metal renditions of Nickelback, or all metal lyricists this terrible and painfully overdramatic?
My legs are open and grateful, however, for how the band still fingers me with electricity, despite all of the compensation for the inevitable tirade of injected vocal clutter. Songs like “Eidolon” remind me why I can’t go a day without listening to music; the opening is absolutely gorgeous (EITS, is that you?) and “leaves me wanting more.” There a few instrumental songs here, but they come far between and are all less than two minutes – essentially “interludes” to make the album seem more novel-esque and much more cohesive than it ought to be considered. As much as bands believe they’re the anti-trend, they still cannot devise a way to bring the album together without using intermissions that were in all probability written the day of recording. The shimmering overlay on most of the album's songs should be expected to be present, the band hasn't completely revamped their style.
A big sigh and move-on for me, another one bites the back of my CD shelves. I’ll pull out NORTH’s previous album every once in a while, but a firm spot on the lowermost shelf tells me Where You Were will be there for some time. I guess I should round this “review” up somehow with a summary on the album, but I’m not going to tug you guys along. Metal is tired, overdone, a slow crawl through a narrowing tunnel of originality. Call me the wrong critic for this assignment, but I’d put money on the rest of the staff saying more or less the same thing. I guess we have sense enough to see a failing rebellion, or fad.
Bit of an odd review I thought, I don't think it really said what the album really sounds like.
Uh, did I not make it clear that it sounded like every other metal album I've heard? I thought I drove that point the most. How are you supposed to describe a metal album as an uninitiated listener and a thorough disapprover?