Release DetailsLABEL Cruz Del Sur Music
RELEASED ON 10/10/2004
posted on 11/2004 By:
Musical experimentation within the genre of metal has lead to exciting and boundary-expanding releases that periodically alter the face of metal. However, one must be weary of the possibility of taking experimentation too far or of wandering down a path of musical hedonism and indulgence. Italy’s Lifend has started down this path with their release Innerscars, a near-cacophony of sounds produced by an array of instruments and devices all melded together to create a sometimes interesting and highly ambitious collection of songs that don’t quite string together as they should. Lifend employs a hodgepodge of styles and sounds to create their own hybridized genre of metal that, in a few select instances, brings to mind the electronic/synthetic aspect of Cynic as well as saxophone-toting country brethren Ephel Duath. Lifend, however, push their experimental boundaries…and keep pushing, and pushing. The question is whether this ambitious attempt at genre bending and experimentation pays off in the end, the answer to which I must say is ‘no’.
The opening track “Innerscars” begins with a synthesized melody that resembles what Cynic was doing years ago. The similarities with Cynic end there, however. Thick, driving guitars and drums then kick in, accompanied by somewhat mournful but well-sung female vocals that, after hearing the Cynic-esque synthesized beginning, bring to mind the vocals of Aghora. Plenty of midrange shrieks follow with the occasional low growl.
Acoustic guitar makes several brief appearances (that is, brief except for an acoustic instrumental track) but seems only to add to the disjointed feel of the album, as opposed to enriching it. Tracks such as “Innerscars”, “Shattering Assurance”, and “Blood-Red-Pain” open with synthesized pulses and melodic beeps that contrast strongly with the more thrash-oriented openings of “Open Wound” and “Spiral Dance” or the acoustic beginning of “Absence”. This diversity of sounds demonstrates the amount of turf Lifend covers, which brings me to my biggest problem with the album as a whole: there’s little focus or musical direction expressed through the song writing. With several tracks clocking in at over six minutes, a listener needs something to grasp onto, some level of consistency or a recurring musical theme to carry them through the listening experience and none is provided.
With the multifaceted instrument/vocal attack throughout the album, it shouldn’t be hard to understand the pivotal role played by production in determining whether a release such as this succeeds or fails. Such an extensive amount of layering necessitates a good recording, especially with the frequent combination of organic and inorganic sounds (i.e. sung vocals and programmed drums, acoustic guitar and synthesizer). Unfortunately the recording on Innerscars makes sorting through the instrumentation difficult indeed. From time to time I found myself straining to follow or, in some instances, hear the lead melody. What we have on Innerscars are some good ideas that are poorly strung together and lots of ambition that is marred by a recording that is not up to par with the demands of the music. This is for the ‘adventurous’ listener.
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