Release DetailsLABEL Codebreaker Records
RELEASED ON 1/31/2005
Figure of Merit
posted on 4/2005 By:
So rarely am I compelled to describe an album in its full. Partially because I'm lazy and form my opinions pretty quickly, but mainly because so few bands provide enough songs worth describing. Giving an in-depth examination to every song on a record often reveals itself to be fruitless endeavor, as with so many bands, it seems like even they're unconcerned with adding depth and variation to their own music. With how reluctant I am with analyzing what usually end up being something flat and same sounding, it comes as a shock that I find myself with the desire to write a more detailed review informing people of every aspect of something. But no, Figure Of Merit's second full-length doesn't need a track by track review, and more importantly, it wouldn't do the record justice.
Combining the best of slow and heavy acts like Cult of Luna with aspects of noise-rock, Vatic was originally released in 2003, so before anyone decides to get up in arms and start complaining about the volume of recent "knock offs" of Neurosis-influenced bands, not only should they take the release date in consideration, but they should hear the album before accepting a simple generalization of their sound. It's far less of a focus on producing some sort of digestible clone for new fans of the genre to chew on and spit back out in their own circles, and more concerned with just writing a great song. What I'm trying to say is that Figure Of Merit don't sound like they're writing songs to belong to a certain category, they're writing them because it's what they want to hear.
So although Figure Of Merit do have a general describable sound, where they go with it is what makes Vatic an album truly worth owning. After three slow and dense songs with an Neurosis/Today Is The Day vibe to them, the song "Blackhammer" hits and completely challenges what direction you thought you had them pegged into going to. Strange as it may be, their epic and quickly picked melodies actually sound like Mastodon playing viking metal, matching basswork and everything. "This Will Not Save You Anymore" perpetuates the excitement of hearing Vatic, opening with a somber and doomy measure before expanding off into an effect-laden and fuzzed out passage. The Unsane influence returns with a vengeance on "Overhead Projector," which differs from the recently reformed AmRep band mainly due to the low vocals and huge build up. The title track sounds absolutely savage and wrenching, with painful mathy guitar parts and a threatening ringing that concludes the three minute song.
I'm incredibly proud that something like this came out of Minneapolis, but also confused as to how the hell these guys have gone so long being nearly undetected. Hopefully with the rerelease of this record and the attention it's sure to receive, Figure Of Merit will make it out on a tour or two, or at the very least, play a few more shows for the people privileged enough to live near their home turf. Earache's Codebreaker label has a strong start, and for the sake of heavy music fans everywhere, let's all hope they maintain the level of quality they've brought us with this first batch of releases.
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