Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Subliminal Fear - Escape From Leviathan (2016)

In my search for a substitute for the now disbanded Sybreed, I stumbled upon Subliminal Fear, a melodic death metal band from Italy that have gone through some changes during their 15 year long career. Their first two albums, "Uncoloured World Dying" from 2007 and "One More Breath" from 2012, could almost be classified as thrash metal, relying on fast paces, frenetic riffing, and a lot of elements that are close to cliche in the genre, ultimately ending in mediocre outings.

Fast forward to 2016, and not only had half of the band changed, but the sound was completely transformed as well. Their third album "Escape From Leviathan" is more of a cyber metal album, relying a lot on futuristic sounds and ideas. If you listened to the band's first two albums first, you would have a really hard time figuring out that this was Subliminal Fear, and it is a change that is, at least to me, welcome.

While I should state that the sound on "Escape From Leviathan" is far from original, it is still a good step forward for the band, revived as something that certainly will raise more eyes around the globe. The production helps in this process as well, sounding much cleaner and stronger than on its two predecessors. It definitely feels like the band has taken all of their routine into this record, and diminished every flaw available. The flow is extremely smooth, and the two vocalists Carmine Cristallo and Matteo De Bellis are doing a tremendous job in the classic "good cop, bad cop" approach, creating a intriguing dynamic.

Even with this luxurious exterior, the band still needs killer songs to further widen their fan base, and to my disappointment, they fail here. Not saying that the songs out right suck, most of them are just bland and hard to remember. The whole album holds a similar tempo throughout its 50 minute run time, so the choruses must do extra work to make the songs stick out, but they cannot handle the pressure. It is a bad sign that the catchiest song of them all is a cover of Talk Talk's "Living In Another World", and while it is a good cover, you would not want this as the album's highlight.

Fortunately, a couple of songs does raise the standard of the album, even if they do it in a more anonymous manor. "Nexus" has a great flow to it and an intriguing build up that may not have the epic climax you were searching for, but it still works. "Dark Star Renaissance" was the song that certainly tied together my comparison of this band and Sybreed, because this is pure cyber metal. A great futuristic and epic sound that gives you a sneak peak of the potential that this band has. But my favourite is "Evilution", not only because it is the heaviest of the bunch, but because it has a drive that is really awesome, giving you the feeling that you are in some apocalyptic world in the future were everything is coming down. Jesus, that is both terrifying and accelerating.

While "Escape From Leviathan" could be seen as a complete revolution, maybe even a sign of a band that is not sure of where they are heading, it is still a cool album that could be a fresh start for Subliminal Fear. Sure, it is unpolished and rough around the edges, in the need of better song writing here and there, but the Italians are on the right path, and if they just take their sweet time to perfect their sound, they might get the result that they want. I will look back at "Escape From Leviathan" as a neat little record, and I hope that in 10 years, I will also see it as the album that truly launched the career of Subliminal Fear. Only time will tell.

Songs worthy of recognition: Evilution, Nexus, Dark Star Renaissance

Rating: 7/10 Self-Proclaimed Gods

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