Inked in Blood – Awakening Vesuvius - 3/5
There is a lot of stigma surrounding what is popular these days, both in the heavy metal scene, and even in the mainstream. Recently, I caved in to two such ‘popular’ trends, the first being the recent smash “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer, and the second being this review, of metalcore act Inked in Blood’s EP Awakening Vesuvius. The similarities between the two astounded me when I took time to consider them. Neither would have garnered by attention if someone did not request I give them a fair shot, and neither was as bad as I mentally prepared myself for. Both have received some opposition, either direct or indirect, for being so popular without just cause, and because they might receive more attention then they deserve. Finally, though the list could go on, I found that beneath some of the hype and counter-criticism, there was an enjoyable experience, if not a classic that I would re-visit anytime soon.
However, you are reading for the music, and not my little revelations, so onto the review. First off, the individual artists are much weaker then I am used to appraising, and they do not blend or work together the way that they could. The guitar ‘riffs’ are often broken playing a few notes, stopping, playing a few more, and ends up being redundant after a while. When the guitar is not struggling to play fluidly or chugging along, they manage to create some simple, if unmemorable, melodies. The bass is buried, as is tradition. The drumming is quite interesting, and competent. He keeps the beat, throws in energizing fills, and keeps up the numerous time changes. The drummer has the least flaws. The vocalist is another story. I can force myself to enjoy his clean singing and little speeches, but the pathetic growls he uses make me cringe. Even when his voice is backed by a ‘rousing’ chorus of similar shouts, the vocals feel weak. What is worse is the occasional strong moment he has, such as the growls during the melody of ‘The New Empiricism’, or “We’re not just faces and names…” in ‘Where the Enemy Sleeps’, that raise my hopes only to dash them when they eventually fade back to feebleness.
What they do right, is they have impeccable taste in groove. I found myself swaying in time to well-executed breakdowns and tempo changes. They can create melody, and when they bother to do so, it really adds to the mood, giving the band a bit more then the appearance of posing tough guys. I also believe that the relative shortness of this recording adds to the score, as if it had gone on longer, I guarantee the boredom would have been a bigger factor in my score. The production is not an issue, and is on par with most full-length releases. As, is becoming increasingly common, I tell you, if you like metalcore, you will like this, and if you do not, you will not. If you are on the fence, give this its shot, and do not trust in the hype. Check stuff out yourself, you might be surprised what you enjoy.
By C. J. Ulferts