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Last I knew, metal wasn’t about following a standard set and expected by mainstream bands, or having an image that will label your music. The last I knew, metal was about letting your music label itself and letting it be appreciated for what it is and not for what it should or shouldn’t be to someone else. And anyone who takes the time to listen to this album will see that Forever In Terror have taken a great first step in creating something unique.
The technicality and scope of the music of 'Restless In the Tides' are quite advanced, especially for a debut album. I will admit that the first time I listened I was not so impressed with the quality of the sound and seemingly repetitious drumming, as well as the lackluster vocals. However, when I gave this album another chance and listened carefully all the way through, it was immediately apparent that these guys understand how to write in-depth, complex songs with plenty of technical prowess, and this is just their first album.
Each song is extremely complex with fast-paced riffing that always has your attention. And to me, the most impressive aspect is the complexity of each song. While they are long and can seem drawn out at times, if you pay attention you can understand that they were not just blindly written to fill time; it’s clear that real thought and effort was spent creating each song. Unfortunately, less than amazing production quality plagues this album, as it is for the most part at the forefront of the album’s overall somewhat dull sound. Of course, the vocals don’t help any and are admittedly very bland and repetitious, offering nothing in terms of emotion for the music, which is sad really because you can tell that this should be an amazingly incredible debut album.
But I can get past those things and focus my attention on what is really impressive, and that’s the overall song structure. Extremely fast, complex riffing is always a guarantee with Forever In Terror, and it is all beautifully complimented by constantly varying, in-your-face drums. Of course, some of the blast beats can get old, mostly due to the production quality like I mentioned, as it seems to push the higher pitched sound of the snare in your face when you would least appreciate it, when what we really want to hear is the guitar and bass drum at the forefront. But hey, I guess you can’t have it all.
The thing I like most about this band and this album in terms of their place within the melodic death genre is that they most often carry a more upbeat, fast-paced and technical sound. So much melodic death out there seems nearly depressive and less interesting, as it all follows much of the same form and it is tough to find something melodic and unique that doesn’t sound too mainstream. Forever In Terror are the happy median, as is expressed with this album. That is the basis behind my thoughts on the songs “The Chosen One” and “I’m Not Afraid of Tomorrow”, which highlight my point-of-view exactly with their melodic clean vocals. But it’s not just the vocals, the entire song is a nice change of pace from the standard heavy and dark themes that fill the genre. You will notice these uplifting melodies and guitar work on “Shameless Crucifixion” and “Restless In the Tides”.
In the world of melodic death metal, especially that which tends to focus on a more technical approach, it’s difficult to create something that can please the majority of listeners on all fronts, such as being fast-paced with extreme tempos, heavy, melodic, and just flat out brutal. Usually something lacks, and in the case of Restless In the Tides, I would have to say that the lacking factor is it’s heaviness. That is nothing to dwell on, especially when you consider this is the band’s first album. And while there are some quality heavy riffs, the album just seems to draw on a more prominent thrash influence, similar to Sylosis’s work. If you want melo-death based more around heaviness, check out Ignominious Incarceration’s 'Of Winter Born'.
All in all, 'Restless In the Tides' is a very impressive debut album. Intense, fast, technical, melodic, and overall very entertaining if you give it the time. If you can appreciate quality American death metal that tends to follow its own path and isn’t quite Gothenburg, but also not the lame, screamo many people think of when they think of American death metal, It will grow on you. Stand out tracks are “Leviathan”, “The Chosen One”, “Shameless Crucifixion”, “I’m Not Afraid of Tomorrow”, “Restless In the Tides”.
I'm not sure what that poor guy on the cover to this Ohio metalcore band's debut did to them, but it must have been awful, because these kids not only hung him naked but also dipped him in a restless sea for any pirate, shark or angry squid to pick off. But their bitter revenge doesn't stop there, because they fully intend to expand the grisly punishment to the listener of this album, Restless in the Tides, one of the most stupendously generic attempts to cash in on the rising metalcore/melodic death metal crossover scene that was probably just a few years too late to make a major impact. One could possibly feel some sympathy for the young band themselves, because they were obviously hungry and at the time this was the vehicle of choice if you wanted to make the maximum impression on the MySpace dimension in the least amount of effort, but shame on Metal Blade, a once excellent heavy metal music label, for signing up and helping distribute and perpetuate this bullshit.
As far as their individual talents are concerned, the members of Forever in Terror are honestly not wretched at performing their instruments with some tact and energy. The roots of their sound lie in the Swedish reign of melodic death metal which was pioneered by At the Gates, In Flames and Dark Tranquillity and then raped to and through the womb by a whole cast of irritatingly shitty American bands like the Black Dahlia Murder and the whole Western Massachusetts radio metalcore squadron. There are quite a few little, uplifting melodies colliding throughout the tracks, though none of them manage to stick to the thoughts beyond the actual experience, and technically the band has it all fairly tight, though I cannot vouch for any translation into the live setting. The mix of the album is average for the style, supportive of its excess breakdowns and drum work but allowing for the melodies to ring true and clear.
The real problem of course that every little random act of death metal, thrashing or true melodic death metal found on this record is just a means to the next breakdown, and the vocals are the epitome of awful, pedestrial US metalcore screaming and growling which becomes tired after only a song or two pass. There is this relentless commitment to the endless, chug and groove mosh riff, many of which are typical brick rhythms heard around the world many times now, for at least a decade, when bands like Earth Crisis and Hatebreed 'perfected it'. Mind you, Forever in Terror does not have a hardcore influence like those bands, they are simply interested in the use of the metallic breakdowns to get the crowd roused and impress all the other bands and fans of this style. The band doesn't solely chug during many of these uninspired segments, though, they very often incorporate evil sounding leads and scales in the vein of a Slayer or Death. Unfortunately, these are formulaic and rather dull.
A great deal of the material on Restless in the Tides is completely forgettable tripe, but there are a few moments spotted about the mallcore rambling that actually do shine. Tracks like "The Chosen One" resort to fucktarded Killswitch Engage styled, soulful clean vocal chorus breaks to show the band's emotional side and pop sensibility (attention record label execs!), but then there are moments like the extended lead break "In the Face of the Faceless" where the band actually begin to resemble a metal band. In fact, the band's quality index rises and peaks the further away from the terrible breakdowns they journey, and if it weren't for such abysmally trendy sequences glaring at me every 20-30 seconds in these songs, I might have been able to develop a greater appreciation. Most of their songs teeter around in the 4-5 minute range, and generally feature about 30-60 seconds of half-decent music, but occasionally they'll go for an 'epic' approach as in "Shameless Crucifixion" or the title track. By epic, I mean the same shit as the other songs, only with an acoustic, In Flames-like outro ("Shameless Crucifixion") or proggy breakdowns with more of the hideously annoying clean, emo vocals with some clean guitars and even violins, which might take you by surprise if you actually cared by the time "Restless in the Tides" actually shows up.
This is far from the most talentless band of hacks out there, and when they show their willingness to branch out beyond the malevolent grasp of all things mall, they actually do begin to sparkle like a newborn baby's urine as it involuntarily splashes its parents for the first time. If they'd only disembark from the obvious trends they are attempting to line their pockets with, who knows what manner of potential would develop? But everything from the shit cover art, shit logo, weak lyrics seemingly borrowed from some angry freshman goth girl's English notebook, forgettable breakdown centrifuge of the writing, atrociously mediocre rah rah vocals and overkill of In Flames styled melodies needs to first be replaced if they're to make their way through the foggy haze of recognition and survive the inevitable collapse of this 21st century castration of extreme music.