Crime Records

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Album review : Wild Card - ReVamp

Wild Card is a 2nd studio album by ReVamp, a symphonic metal band from Netherlands formed by the lead singer Floor Jansen, after the split up of her former band After Forever,
and it is rather strong album.

The band’s style can be described as female fronted melodic metal with symphonic elements.
The sound is constituted mainly by the contrast between heavy low-tuned guitars (the tuning works well to support the music instead of just muffling the sound) and the lead singer, who floats above the guitar floor and is in the center of the focus; this is encapsulated by the keyboard work that adds a lot of “melodicness” to the music by dynamically getting smaller and bigger without drawing too much attention and also occasionally supports the feeling of rhythm by synthetic sounds.
The whole machine is powered by a uncompromising drum work that sometimes can be reminding of power metal bands.
(Last minute edit: I almost forgot to mention the bass work, which in itself can give an idea - it's a classical nowhere-to-be-heard-unless-missing bass that delivers a standart performace, nothing less, nothing more)

The songwriting represents a balance between simple melodic mayhem and prog complexness, which does not mean that this is some kind of math metal - it is pretty straightforward metal, but rarely remains the same for too long, it changes often enough to keep you interested what is lurking behind another corner - you’ll find that every corner is a step up on a stairway of gradation that is often released straight in your face.

As you may have guessed from the statements above, the album is very energic, which is clear right from the beginning with the opener “The Anatomy Of A Nervous Breakdown (TAOANB from now on)- On The Sideline”, that serves you a refrain catchy enough to prevent you from switching to something else. The djentish riffing of the following track “TAOANB - Limbic System” introduces somehow darker feeling of melancholy that becomes more apparent as the album progresses to the 2nd half, until then you will hear the title track “Wild Card” that carries somehow comforting feeling, but also one thing that is not positive on the album - sometimes it feels a bit homogenous, if you don’t concentrate on certain tracks, it becomes quite all the same - just a heavy locomotive transporting a singing woman and some guys playing metal. It is partly the case of the title track, that doesn’t really become that interesting until about the middle, the highlighted piano during the chorus doesn’t save it. Luckily enough, just the following track “Precibus” is one of my personal faves and combines calmer, even romantic passages where Jansen shows that opera singing is not a problem for her (along with harsh vocals after the 2nd half), with a very catchy chorus. “Nothing” works on a similar base and then comes the last “TAOANB” track, named “Neurasthenia” and where is introduced Devin Townsend, who sings in the role of a darker half of the self. Another personal fave, this one really kicks __s, it is like an invitation to headbanging that accumulates tension in calm moments and releases it into an epic chorus; both singers go nuts and show a bit broader emotional spectrum than on the rest of the album (no, not biaised at all, haha). Following “Distorted Lullabies” catches by calmer verses that lead into a relatively satisfying chorus and orchestral bridge to a nice guitar solo. “Amendatory” is one of the rare songs of the album where the guitar riff is kind of constituting part of the song for a while, instead of making just a distorted floor as usually; the 2nd half of the song makes you aware of the dark feeling that is hidden behind a good part of the songs and gets more noticeable since the duet with Devin Townsend.
“Can I Become” is a decent one with a catchy chorus and an awesome solo part.
Then comes “Misery’s no crime”, which stands about on the same level as the duet. It’s not just because of the grunted verses by Mark Jansen, it’s very dark and monumental especially during the chorus and it works well with the contrast of Mark’s grunt and Floor’s clean singing. Following track “Wolf and dog” again stands out because of a noticeable djenty riffing, grading ambient passages and nice proggy part after the 2nd half. The bonus track “Sins” doesn’t really stand out but is pretty decent, though would not be a better finisher than “Wolf and dog”.

To sum it up, this is pretty strong album and if you like female fronted metal, you will probably not regret getting it. It is pop enough to attract and metal enough to maintain. The downside could be occasional homogeneity of the songs, but this is balanced by the kickass songs found across the album.

RATING: 7,75 out of 10