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Exoterik – Butterfly In Your Hand

A year down the line and thanks again to Tom for the CD. Female fronted gothic rock generally does very little for me, however their debut album “Don't Swallow” was way better than most. Another year wiser how does this one compare?

At the risk of history repeating itself, my observations levelled at the first album are pretty much the same this time around. The production's slick, the band clearly have a mastery of song construction and dynamics, although second time round the heavier songs have more impact and directness. Most of the tracks are around the three to four minute mark, and despite the somewhat rigid ABACAB structure, they still have a separate identity and pack a lot in to the time frame.

The album's a mix of out and out rockers, quiet intros leading into rock territory, and unashamed ballads, and for the most part mixes these up well. The two opening tracks - “Reason To Live” and “No Happy Ending” - are as good as anything you'll hear in this genre. Riffs, hooks, singalong choruses, topped with quality vocals make them an enjoyable listen. “Reason In Ruins” is the highlight for me, one of the longest songs on the CD but it doesn't feel it – builds progressively until the opening chunky guitars and then continues with a swagger.

Now the criticisms. Whilst the production overall does the band plenty of favours, there are a couple of areas I'd have tweaked. The keyboards seem a bit thin at times, and the drums aren't quite right. They're a bit low in the final mix, the kick is near as damn it anonymous, and the snare sound could have been punchier. Perhaps I've been listening to extreme metal too long?

The guitar tone is superb, but again I'd have liked more soloing. As to the songs, a couple of the ballads don't quite cut it, and I again would question the running order. The title track starts with a nice touch with the clip from “Are You Alive” and despite the opening riff being solid this one just fizzles out. Not an obvious choice therefroe to close the album. “Start Again” and penultimate track “Uninvited” were on the weak side to my ear.

The album as a whole works well and has that “I've heard this before but can't quite place it” quality whilst retaining a strong sense of identity. Anneka's vocals flit between silky smooth and edgy rock with ease, coupled with a good range, power, and control. I'm not an authority on this genre by any means, but I see no reason why this release should be anything but positive for them. They've been increasing their profile steadily, supporting bigger names all the time. Perhaps 2010 could be a breakthrough year for them?

 

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