Exoterik - Don't Swallow

Thanks to Tom from the band for the copy of the CD. I'd already heard a couple of tracks on the album (see previous single review) and I was more than interested to hear how the full length would sound.

  1. The Catalyst. Lone chunky guitar to start, swiftly followed by the rest of the band. Imaginative use of the kicker pedal during the intro. Moody and atmospheric vocal overlays a gothic meets power metal opener. Stop/start outro seemed a bit pointless.
  2. Salvation. Atmospheric opening builds progressively to chorus. A well structured song with good dynamics, has a Middle Eastern feel.
  3. Watch You Bleed. Lone drums this time, followed by vocals, bass and finally guitar. Reminiscent of Lacuna Coil, chorus has a nice riff.
  4. Complicity. Slower track, first outing for the gothic rock ballad. Guitar kicks in more heavily in chorus, then it's back to tried and trusted territory.
  5. Are You Alive? Best track on the album so far. Cracking opening riff, hook-laden and very catchy chorus. Verse is faster and punchier than anything that precedes it. Possibly needs shortening a fraction, but minor niggle – great track.
  6. Alone. After the ethereal opening, an almost industrial section is aired – sounds weird but it works. Familiar quiet verse, heavier chorus ballad follows. Great vocals throughout.
  7. Forever Watching. Quality opening riff, aided I suspect by a far dirtier, nastier, guitar tone. The body of the song features a strange but effective soundclash, stoner/classic rock meets gothic. Another standout track.
  8. Preservation. Intro is very power metal/prog mainly due to the keyboard work. Vocals are good again; imploring tone in verse works particularly well.
  9. Humanity Inc. Heavier song from the off with a great guitar tone. This one bounces along nicely – great basswork.
  10. Raping The Reverie. After the lengthy atmospheric intro we enter the quiet verse, loud chorus domain. Familiar, but this one works well as it's well structured with great dynamics.
  11. Find A Cure (To Save Yourself). Formulaic structure, very reminiscent of Evanescence. Curious choice to close the album.

Let's make it clear from the outset that this is way removed from my usual thrash, death, and black metal leanings! That said I bet this really comes into its own live - and it makes a refreshing change for the drummer to not be blastbeating relentlessly! I wonder how the sound would translate to the live experience - an extra guitarist or keyboard player would make sense. Musicianship and songwriting are solid throughout, there's plenty of good riffs and hooks on here to keep you involved. Aided by the stunning production this will please fans of Lacuna Coil, Evanescence et al no end.

Analysing the band further I'd make the following observations. Anneka's vocals are distinctive and her striking appearance should ensure she's a focal point and hopefully engaging frontwoman. Tom's guitar work is solid and in general has a good tone, I'd like to hear more soloing though. David's basswork is also solid with good tone and bounce and the programming/keyboard work is fine. Stephen gets one of the best drum sounds I've heard for a while and seems to enjoy this! Snare sound is superb, and the kicker pedal is used intelligently throughout (although the triples get a bit wearing!).

So, this is better than average gothic rock with female vocals. The Middle Eastern influence works well, and aside from the running order, I found it an entertaining listen. There's a lot of competition in this sector at the moment though and I suspect success, or otherwise, will rest on their live abilities. Time to gig like mad and see what joys 2009 can bring....



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