I have had this promo for a while and was initially unable to make up my mind about it. But a couple of thorough listens convinced me to be a rightful place in the reviews section.
The album starts out with a thick atmosphere, synth strings and choirs and an undercurrent of samples. It is hard to tell where this will lead. As “Vultures In My Dying Bed” kicks in, it immediately illustrates the sound. Post modern melodic metal, muscular yet full of emotion. Clean vocals lift the song to commercial heights, yet the instrumentation remains firmly in the underground. By the third song, the band’s penchant for penning heartfelt rockers is apparent. The vocals may be a bit of an acquired taste, but one that I was enjoying by the second spin of the CD. There are whiffs of electronica and samples here and there, but are only adornments. I found the lead work especially enjoyable in its developed melodicism and tasteful restraint. “Fire Heaters” just cries to be on commercial radio, and it is indeed a good composition that mixes mid-nineties alter-pop-metal to cleaner Amorphis. So it quite comes as a shock that the next track sounds like something that Sanctuary (pre-Nevermore) and Anathema jammed on. A great head banging song where the gypsy-ish background vocals take it above and beyond. And it ends with burst of tougher metal. There is even an obligatory (but rather too sugary) ballad in “Scarheart”. As if conscious of the syrup surge, the band provides immediate relief with the dark grooves and near black metal blasts of “The Gruesome Smile” (though be warned : the same song touches progressive and stoner rock territory too). You just have to admire the band’s breadth of sound. The instrumental “Pain Inc” has the kind of simplicity and blatant emotion that I haven’t heard in along. Very nice and effective, yet fluently segueing into the fluid led intro of “I of The Storm”. There is a maturity on display here that belies the band’s age. And wait till the rhythm kicks in with the near hardcore vocals. A truly epic track that shows all the band is capable of. The winning streak continues with the closer. Surely on to spin when in an introspective mood.
This is a pretty ambitious debut that achieves all it sets out to, and then some. Everything from extreme metal, gothic, grunge to progressive rock and alternate pop is touched upon here, with the band retaining a unique identity (no mean feat). Barring the ballad, I ended up thoroughly enjoying all the tracks. The crystalline production and the melodic progressive natures of the songs are a definite boon. Let’s see where these steps lead !
Avantgenre: Progressive Melancholy
Official site: http://www.myspace.com/vertigosteps
Review online since: 06.02.2009 / 18:32:08
1 Steps to Vertigo (in Through)