Thursday, 16 August 2012

Review: After Illusion - s/t demo : Nosferatu is in dire need of blood... - 58%

I wrote this review because the band asked me to in the Request a Review thread of the Metal Archives, it was written back in july. 

After Illusion is a young doom metal band and this self titled demo is their second one after one released in 2007. It was a musical piece the band didn't like and they threw it in the garbage can, was this one also worthy of being thrashed? You will see. What we have here is 3 original songs, a short classical intro and a cover of Saint Vitus. The album art is cool, it's a picture of Bega Lugosi as Dracula, it's scary and totally metal. I was expecting some kind of occult doom metal, maybe similar to American peers Hour of 13, but what we have here is some kind of epic doom with some influences from power metal, but at the same time, it's trying to be traditional doom. After Illusion is classified as a power/thrash band in its earlier years on the Archives, the epic vocals and the atmospheric guitars are possibly a remnant of this power metal phase. Anyway, it feels like a doomier version of epic heavy metal at times, it could be linked to bands like Doomsword, albeit not as epic and it's not based on fantasy and history. The themes of the lyrics are about horror and the occult, but I hardly find this in their music, it doesn't invoke that kind of atmosphere within me as a band like The Wounded Kings would. It's not spooky, it's boring.

I like some of the riffs, but the production on them is quite soft, the drums and bass are also quite ordinary, not much to say about them, they're in the back doing their thing, without any form of artifices. The demo obviously lacks adequate production, and the songwriting is also uninteresting. The first song, Life and Death is quite influenced by Pagan Altar, one of the biggest influences on the band. We have an enjoyable clean lead riff at the beginning and some laid back epic styled vocals, not nasally like Terry Jones though. I'm not crazy about these vocals, they're decent, but not as good as the riffs which are themselves only semi decent. The production on the vocals is not the best, it's not complimenting the music enough, they're not bad, really, but both the execution and the production could definitely be improved. The band leader Adam Thomas is a talented fellow though, he's playing the guitar, singing and also playing the keyboards, although these aren't much present. We can feel their lush presence in Life and Death, but not so much elsewhere. The song Black Ritual has a well written solo, but again the production is soft and tired. Also, the riffs progression is not worthy of a first class doom band. For example, Nosferatu included a soft break in the middle of the song and it feels totally out of place and the transition is not well done. The songwriting has potential though, but the songs we have here are pretty boring, not mediocre, but it's lacking the sheer mighty force that I enjoy in doom metal and the production isn't to blame here. The songs are not very long for the genre, 4 to 6 minutes, but they feel like an eternity. The band is kind of in between genres, they're not sure if they're playing a more epic and atmospheric style of doom or a more traditionnal one. Something that better known recent doom bands can be accused of as well, but these (Pallbearer, Pilgrim and co.) are able of creating a good balance between the solid and fuzzy riffs and the atmospheric ones and also, they're writing with their balls and it's heavy as fuck, not something that I can say about this demo. Even the Vitus cover (Zombie Hunger) is boring, it's lacking the blurry, occult presence of this great track from Vitus' first album. 

The band doesn't fail though, they're still young and I liked the first song, but sadly, the best songwriting on this demo is the intro track, Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky... I won't throw the files in my virtual garbage can, because I recognize the potential and the effort and it's not badly written, but it's not very inspired either. Doom is not the most complex genre, but it needs passion, After Illusion is nothing new and it's tiresome

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