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An Amazing Display of Technicality - 94%

phibzy, October 5th, 2010

As I was getting more and more into different genres of metal, there was one band's name that kept popping up quite often when indulging myself in the history of various bands. Eventually as some time passed, I managed to get to listen to their latest album: Traced in Air. Immediately I was swept away by how different this sounded. The main thing that really hit me were Paul's vocoder vocals, which left me puzzled after listening to a few songs, even to the point of me stopping to listen to the album altogether. However, the release somehow managed to grow on me, and I began to get over Paul's vocals and realise that they were actually part of the "atmosphere" of the music.

Anyhow, after listening to Traced in Air, I wanted to listen to the album that was so talked about amongst the metal community, their debut album Focus. Because I was used to the elements displayed in Traced in AIr, I was able to properly indulge myself into this music, and what can I say, this album is one of the best that I have heard in my life.

The vocals in this album are simply excellent, because it comprises of a trade off between the soothing vocoder vocals and some light death growls. The good thing about the growls (which some people seem to not like) is the fact that they are not overly guttural and loud, which prevents it from completely obliterating the illusion of adventure that is felt while listening to this album. The vocoder vocals are simply amazing and really calm me down everytime I give this album a listen, which is a slight change from most forms of metal.

The guitarwork on this album is of real high quality, with the majority of the two lead guitar parts being completely separate from each other. Instead of the usual boring arrangement of a lead guitar and a very dull rhythm guitar backing it, the two guitarists really explore their own individuality within their guitar parts, with them both usually playing completely different leads to each other.

The bass playing on this album really stands out from other bands. The band have, on this album, purposely put the bass higher into the musical mix, which again adds to this sense of atmosphere created by all the other parts. The playing is extremely well done by Sean Malone, showcasing his ability to play such complex lines of music, and in some sections even outdoing the guitars with his playing.

And now the drums. What can I say, Sean Reinert is just "god like" behind the drum kit. His fill-style of drum playing really lays down a great blueprint for the rest of the music, as it fits in perfectly and really drives the musical atmosphere forward, as well as avoiding to overdo the playing and destroying the music. The fact that this guy pulls off his drumming abilities live with ease is also mind-blowing.

In conclusion, this album to me is really as good as it has been hyped up to be. Although it may take some time to get over the "robotic" vocals, after a couple of listens you will begin to find it a lot easier to listen and eventually be able to indulge yourself in the wonderful diversity of sound that is explored throughout this album.