December 12, 2013

Relentless - Souls of Charon (2013)

I think it was spring (or early summer) when I found out that these guys were releasing their debut (here be the article, but the youtube link is dead, so that doesn´t really matter anymore; for reference, the track was Souls of Charon, instrumental version). Time passed, the record was postponed, and after that I forgot about all the fuss.

Yet I´m here writing the review, ain´t I? 

I remembered about this album a couple of weeks ago and almost every day since then I´ve been giving it at least one spin, if not five or six. Now, for a record that barely hits the 35 minute mark, you might think it´s an absolute masterpiece. The truth, however, is in the eyes of the beholder. Or ears, in this case.

You see, Souls of Charon has some excellent instrumentation. The riffs are catchy, solos have actual melody behind them and the rhythm section is spot on. However, with the exception of the closing title track which fares well from start to finish, the rest of the songs take a little while to get interesting and that usually happens at around the half point of each. This is where the doom elements take a seat back and maidenesque, galloping riffs take their place.

With that said, we´ve come to the actual problem of this record: the vocals. To say that they are off-putting would be the most diplomatic way of handling things, and I´m going to do just that. With melodies that mostly follow the solo guitar, without any individual contribution, a nasal tonality buried deep in the mix (compared to the clearness of all the other instruments) and a very limited range, the vocal performance of Carlee Jackson is, and I´m sad to have to say this, the weakest element of this recording. 

But then again, I´ve been listening to this record for the last couple of weeks, so what´s the catch? 

There isn´t one, I tell you, however every time I hit the second half of Better Off Dead, the uplifting solo work of Forever Damned or the monstrously epic feeling that pours out of the title track, I can´t just shake the feeling that Souls of Charon, the album, if it were to benefit from a re-release where all the issues that currently plague it would be handled, it could just very well become the masterpiece heavy metal record (in vein with all the 70´s and 80´s kings) of the current decade.

Meanwhile, you´re free to have a listen on their bandcamp page, and please tell me if you happen to feel the same way.

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