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Paradigms Recording has put out some really solid records. There's Hjarnidaudi's dreamy funeral doom, the overwhelming shoegaze/noise of The Angelic Process, and even the mellow slow-core that's Snowdrift. So when this record came along I didn't even bother listening to samples or reviews... I just bought it. While I'm not exactly going to demand my CD back, this record is a definite disappointment. There's some interesting moments here, no doubt, but much of this is rooted in the post-metal genre, and a lot of it you've already heard before, and done better.
Woburn House do have some rather nice moments though. One promising thing this band has is the ability to write chunky, mid tempo riffs. River starts off with some lengthy spoken word sample, and then goes straight into a real nice riff, somewhat reminiscent of Metallica's Orion. Motor starts off in a similar fashion. Hearing a traditional metal riff in a song may not seem like the most revolutionary thing, but with the exception of early Pelican, most post-metal ignores the power of the really big riff . It's a shame these guys don't use these riffs more, as they're definitely the best parts of the album.
Unfortunately, everything else tends to be fairly forgettable. The songs are all fairly epic, but they're not quite focused- it's forgiveable because it's their first album, but if you're going to have an album with every song over ten minutes, you need to keep things interesting and keep things progressing. That's not to say these guys are as boring as say, Opeth, but slightly tighter song writing would be a real nice thing.
But there's more pressing issues- like the lack of another guitarist. This may sound unfair, but a 3 piece band should not be playing this type of music. That's not to insult the band members- they're all competent musicians and the like- but this kind of music cries out for lots of layers (or at least a few layers), and a three piece band just can't cut it. It's not quite as noticeable when they get heavy and let the riffage flow, but so many parts would sound better with one more guitar, or some synths. The mellow bits can sound insufferably bare, and there's also a lack of decent dynamic flow throughout, due to the lack of another guitar to add some extra loudness. The vocals aren't particularly impressive either- not terrible, but the clean vocals are quite mediocre and the shouted vocals aren't too hot either. Still, they're rarely used, so it's not too bad. The mellow bits are a problem too.. Just not memorable and/or beautiful enough. There are a few nice moments of mellowness, like the jam that kicks off Cord and moments in the first song, but for the most part they're quite mediocre.
Still, this album doesn't offend me or anything. Woburn House have done a few things quite well in this release, but there's still lots of areas to improve in. But there's always next album. Hopefully the songwriting will be better, and a 4th member will be added. Should be interesting!