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Wasted Potential - 70%

lonerider, November 24th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2002, CD, Metal Blade Records

Rather than reciting facts about Canadian metallers Eidolon that are taken right from their entry here on the Archives, we might as well cut straight to the chase. On Coma Nation, Eidolon adhere to the North American brand of power metal and infuse it with a heavy dose of thrash, particularly in regards to the guitar play and overall aggressive nature of most of the songs. The riffing delivered by Glen Drover is downright spectacular and the guitars, endowed with one of the crunchiest, most badass tones you will ever hear, are right at the forefront of the mix. Anyone who listens to metal primarily for the purpose of being blown away by nasty riffs and a massive wall of guitars should absolutely love Coma Nation. However, those who also appreciate refined and diverse songwriting as well as a knack for catchy hooks and leads will be left wanting for more.

The album kicks off with the truly ferocious title track, a fast-paced orgy of violence that’s actually more thrash metal than anything else. It’s a bold statement that Eidolon are here to rip your face off with an unrelenting barrage of blistering riffs and pummeling drums played with great precision and heavy use of the double-bass pedal. Unfortunately, it is not exactly a harbinger of things to come, as no other song on Coma Nation reaches the same level of intensity and reckless velocity. In fact, the only other track that could be characterized as predominantly fast-paced is “A Day of Infamy”. The rest do have faster passages here and there, but are mostly mid-paced and even feature some slow, plodding sections as well as the occasional acoustic guitar interlude (e. g. on “The Pentacle Star”).

There certainly is some variety here, which makes it all the more perplexing that about half an hour into the proceedings, things start to drag and grow somewhat stale. Then again, there are other highlights beside the title track, namely the almost twenty-minute long closer “Within the Gates” – even though it lacks a coherent structure and will lose your attention during some of its less compelling moments –, as well as “Life in Agony” and “Scarred”. The last two are unexpectedly melodic, each conveying a rather doleful mood and boasting a surprisingly catchy chorus. What’s odd though is that the band decided to place them in back-to-back positions. Considering they sound eerily similar to each other, it would have benefited the running order to save one of them for later.

Truth be told, some of the other cuts, such as “Lost Voyage”, “Hunt You Down” and “From Below”, seem rather gratuitous. They all follow the same basic formula of pounding, aggressive, riff-driven power metal that’s high on technical proficiency and testosterone yet short on truly memorable moments. Moreover, both “Hunt You Down” and “From Below” fade out with elongated segments of repetitive stop-and-go riffing that wouldn’t feel out of place on a 1990s Pantera record. On Coma Nation, however, these are quite pointless and pretty annoying.

It’s hard to pinpoint why this album, in spite of all its tasty ingredients, ends up a much more insipid stew than it actually should. Aside from the obvious lack of catchiness and truly ingenious moments, it might have something to do with singer Pat Mulock’s vocal delivery. It’s not that the guy can’t sing; in fact, you won’t find much fault with his performance from a technical standpoint. His aggressive mid-range pitch certainly fits the music, he occasionally does some nice melodic singing and even throws in a couple of growls as well (namely on “Within the Gates”). Even so, he fails to really make his mark on Coma Nation as his vocal delivery is just a little too monotonous, his vocal lines lack imagination and his range is rather limited.

In the end, Eidolon’s most potent asset is definitely the sizzling guitar work courtesy of Glen Drover, but even that is not enough to mask the various flaws of this recording, particularly in the songwriting department. Save for a few exceptions, the songs tend to just fade into each other, making it hard for the listener to immediately discern which one is currently playing. Ultimately, Coma Nation is the epitome of decent – a nice, decent album which, while you might put it on every once in a while, will neither leave a lasting impression nor will it capitalize on the considerable instrumental prowess of the musicians involved. Inspired songwriting and passionate delivery always trumps technical mastery. Whereas Coma Nation delivers the latter in spades, the former is in short supply on an album that has too much of a by-the-numbers feel to make you forget its shortcomings.

Choicest cuts: Coma Nation, Life in Agony, A Day of Infamy, Within the Gates

Rating: 7.0 out of 10 points