posted on 3/2008 By:
Belgium's Forced Evolution is a relatively new band; Unveiled is their second recording, after 2006’s simply titled Demo. I haven’t heard that recording, nor do I want to, but they could’ve just as easily called this one Demo 2, or perhaps Demo, Too, since that’s exactly what it feels like.
They're attempting a blend of thrash and power metal, and I know that's not a new combination, nor an uncommon one, nor even a difficult one. Unlike, say, Nevermore, Forced Evolution doesn't really take elements of both styles and make something interesting. Instead, they seem unsure of which side of the line they want to be on, jumping back and forth between epic melodic moments and Pantera-meets-The-Haunted riffing. (And even some gothic-tinged female vocals towards the end.) Vocalist Lionel Bauer is the one constant that keeps the band squarely in the thrash realm. His alternately growled/falsetto screeched vocals are always on that side of the equation. Unfortunately, one of my major issues with the record is exactly that: if they had a vocalist more in line with their power-metal tendencies, one who could straddle the line a little better, like say Warrel Dane or Bruce Hall (Agent Steel), then this would be infinitely more (ahem) powerful. Even without that, even without a leather-lunged screamer, Bauer's voice just sounds like any of the new-thrash kids around, not distinctive in the least. It works fine, however blandly, on the thrashier moments like the verses of the title track, but it fails completely at carrying any of the melodic pieces, like the awful chorus of “First Day Of My Apocalypse.”
There are a few other issues with the record, not the least of which is songwriting. Unveiled opens with what is quite possibly the most pointless pair of instrumental tracks I've heard in the last few years. After a pompous John Williams-film-score-esque symphonic intro--the boringly named "Overture"--"Echoes Of Evolution" starts with a drum intro that goes nowhere except into some melodic guitar leads and thrash riffs that also don't go anywhere. It's not so much an instrumental track as it is just a track without vocals. (Right now you're saying, "Dumbass, that's what 'instrumental' means," and I know that. What I mean is that the song sounds unfinished; the riffs don't carry the song. It needs some kind of focal point, some melodic something to not sound like Lionel just didn't show up or didn’t feel like writing lyrics that day.) Collectively, the instrumental portion is eight minutes long, which neither helps nor is helped by its meandering nature. Further into the album, “Apocalypse” also suffers from that same inability to streamline, to pare down eight minutes of ideas into something useful, or at the least, not boring.
So what’s right with this? Well, there are some moments, like the title track, where the band seems to get it down pretty well. That one opens with a very Haunted-like thrash verse and melodic chorus moment that actually works. Guitarist Ulrich Schadeck tosses off some really cool melodic leads, and his riffing with rhythm guitarist Nicolas Toussaint is tight. Lionel stays out of the way during the more power-metal moments, letting the guitars handle the melodies. The straight power metal intro to “The Enchanted,” is probably the best moment of riffing on the album until it’s botched by a duet between guest female vocalist Justine C. Torn and Lionel “I Only Scream, No Matter What The Song Needs” Bauer. There’s a pretty cool batch of groovy riffs towards the very end of “Enchanted,” as well, but then the damn duet bit is back.
I can’t think of a reason that you’d need to hear this. There’s some modicum of talent on display here, particularly in the guitar work, but Forced Evolution needs to find some better blending of styles before they’ll garner any further interest from these ears.
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