Our Fellowship Eternal
posted on 12/2005 By:
New Jersey’s Core Device describes their sound as “melodic but heavy, angry but sad, violent yet thoughtful. These seem to be opposites but when it comes to Core Device it fits. All elements, emotions and the darkness comprise this band.” For me, the contrasts run deeper. Our Fellowship Eternal is one of the most simultaneously promising and frustrating self released albums I’ve heard in some time. These guys have talent to burn and do many things well, but just haven’t completely put it together in the right combination on their first effort. Playing a brand of chunky, American made power metal with occasional (raised) fistfuls of progressive and traditional elements, Core Device’s sound is influenced by Nevermore, Iced Earth, and Fates Warning–three bands with whom the band has shared the stage.
It’s the Nevermore comparison that may be the most relevant, as just like Warrel Dane, Daniel Dunphy is a vocalist around whom listeners will either rally or cringe. Dunphy has a strong set of pipes and a nice range, but his multidimensional performance is over ambitious. The band is, for all practical purposes, rock solid. The riffs are beefy and varied, with plenty of classy leads and melody. The rhythm section is equally effective; the bass plays a substantial role and the drum fills and double bass are used judiciously. About two thirds of the time, Dunphy’s vocals are a perfect fit with the band’s sound, and during these times Core Device sound like a formidable up and coming band (and for what it’s worth, this material alone would earn at least a full extra point in “songwriting”). It’s when he tries to stretch both downward into death metal territory and upward into emotive crooning that Our Fellowship Eternal ranges from mundane to just plain flawed. What’s most frustrating is that he can sing effectively in those registers when he chooses to–his gruff vocals work well in several places, but the death growl is entirely pedestrian. Worse is the push toward what I must assume is a vibe of melancholy introspection. Again, the powerful delivery of higher registered vocals usually works, but on many occasions the softer delivery drips with enough emotive melodrama to make Morrissey squeamish. “Unknown Tears” showcases all of what Core Device is and what they need to move away from. Beginning well with a mellow guitar passage and vocals, the song shifts into a crunchy, head bobbing intro, before losing some ground during the verse. But where things really fall apart is the chorus, when Dunphy’s harmonies come dangerously close to barbershop quartet territory. Likewise, the title track is mostly a well-developed and impressive song, but is compromised by some questionable vocal lines. These vocal lines are nearly all technically competent, but simply ill advised, as they aren’t suited to the music and give the material a convoluted identity.
There are plenty of good moments on the album as well, and a few of my favorites are opener “Shadows Mind”, “Green Water”, the traditional leaning “Burning Away” and the thrashy “God and Man”. I’d like to think that Core Device will refocus and refine their approach, as I believe that they have the potential to not only quickly find a label, but also create a stir. However, I have to think that much of what I’m criticizing is integral to what the band views as its personality. If you’re a fan of the bands referenced it would be worthwhile to check out some audio samples. The vocals are divisive, and some may find appeal where I’ve found fault. If so, Our Fellowship Eternal is worth picking up. As for me, I’ll wait to see where Core Device is next time around.
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