Release DetailsLABEL Goodfellow Records
RELEASED ON 5/10/2005
One Man's Struggle With The English Language
posted on 5/2005 By:
Hailing from Greensboro, North Carolina, Quell are Goodfellow's entry into the overcrowded "mathcore" field in a brave attempt to wade through the inherent setbacks of the genus and arrive unscathed. Unfortunately, accomplishing such a feat is no easy task, as ultimately they're dragged down to the level of so many other acts that a few kids will always tote as exceptional, but the rest of us will be aching to move on from.
At times swelling with mathy intensity, Quell fuse slight jazz elements into songs, much like the older work of The Dillinger Escape Plan. Possessing more of a manic sound than the mentioned band, they're every bit as technical as you'd expect, yet deal with the style with more tenacity than most of their peers. However, something falls short in the end. I'm unimpressed and even annoyed by the vocals at times, which have this generic quality that sounds like a sample of someone throwing up, looped and repeated. They're not impressive in their limited range nor their patterns. Typically, I wouldn't even bother bringing them up. They're relatively inoffensive for metal vocals and don't make or break the album, but they epitomize Quell's most recognizable problem. With a band playing a style that can so easily be lumped together and forgotten about, you're automatically swimming upstream. You need every last bit of originality you can conjure up, and that's exactly what this album is lacking.
Although there's a few breaks with just regular shouted vocals, like on "Tedious Relay Of Sand And A Pendulum" or the trance-inducing repetitive tones of "Purge And Consolidate", but overall it's very hard to do a song by song analysis for the simple fact that there's usually nothing to individuate one from the other. Yes, you can play. You can play fast and accurately, with a lot of dissonance, changing tempos often - but is there anything you can play that I'm going to remember without 50 repeated listens? Apparently there is, as the two songs that comprise the last 14 minutes on the album are shining examples of what Quell are capable of. The nameless ninth track is a haunting instrumental spliced with heavy static and piano, while "Circumventing Language Barriers By Speaking Louder" has a nice Level Plane/Envy feel to it.
I'm kind of disappointed by this. I had heard good things, and Goodfellow Records hosts a few great bands right now; I went into this one charged up and ready to enjoy it. One Man's Struggle With The English Language is an album created by extremely talented musicians, but given the plethora of competition that arises in the chaotic metalcore on a constant basis, Quell are going to have to struggle for a while until they develop some recognizable personality, which could easily be achieved by incorporating more of the same type of melody and dual vocals.
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