Written By: Tim Bannock
Label: Trustkill – Rating:
A mix of old-school Biohazard (more of the NYC hardcore element) and Earth Crisis (fitting, considering Karl shows up on “Drawn To Death’s Door”), Awaken Demons has unleashed The Mirror, a criminally uneven release that shows potential despite some head-smackingly obvious faults. Boasting Max Cavalera-esque vocal stylings and some pretty monstrous riffs, the ten tracks on this disc will demand your attention, but may not fulfill your desires. It’s not for lack of trying though, as the production values gain a big thumbs up, and the good tracks really shine.
The Mirror gains some immediate traction with the opening track, “Coming To An End” and follows through on “Drawn To Death’s Door.” Crazy bass drops and an excellent break down section close out this track, wreaking havoc like a fifty-foot monster laying waste to Tokyo for the umpteenth time. But then “Path of Lies” kicks in exactly where “Drawn…” left off…to the point that it’s annoyingly similar. Did they plan the continuity, or did they just write the same song twice? There are some thrashier moments, but otherwise it is a copy/paste job of the previous song. Why not combine them? Toss in different vocalizations, at least? Such an early start to the questions that do not cease.
“Abandon the Darkness” is a ditty about how “I can’t. Fucking. Trust you.” This song does right what so much of this disc does wrong: cocky, hardcore posturing and swaggering moshpit breakdowns. It works on this track, which is fantastic, but it serves as a bittersweet moment when you discover this is the second best track on the disc, so they’ll never quite get back to par (wait a few moments and I’ll reveal the best track, I swear!). “World Collapses” follows, and is damn near as good as Abandon, if it weren’t for the over-use of pinch harmonics and rolling riffs that we’ve heard everywhere else on this disc. A swift boot to the ass and Awaken Demons could turn tracks like this into something amazing, but as it stands, it feels like your listening to a band going through the motions. Good, fun motions, but it’s still all just rote rehearsal.
And guess what they repeat endlessly on “Fight To Overcome.” If you guessed, “I like Ball Park franks,” you’re a flaming idiot. They mention passingly how they don’t like you, how they don’t need you, and how they don’t trust you. They might even tell you to fuck off. But mainly they just tell you how they’re going to “Fight to Overcome.” I’m guessing it’s not about women’s rights, so “overcome” does not refer to the glass ceiling. Wild guess: they will fight to overcome you. Or the man. Or something else equally vague. No matter how you cut it, it’s nothing you can’t find somewhere else, but it’s sure as hell a lot less creative. (Listen to Turmoil for a more creative spin on this kind of lyrical wit. When they open a disc with “What the fuck are you looking at?” you actually feel like they just punched out your lights.)
The lyrics on “Real” are so ridiculously generic that I thought it was done with tongue planted firmly in cheek. But it definitely takes itself too seriously, because it leads into “Victim of Your Game,” which is even worse. It’s about the gang-like brotherhood that surrounds…metal? Gangs? Straightedge kids? Who cares? It’s pretty dumb. It’s like Godsmack’s nine hundred songs imploring people to “stay away, get back, don’t come near me.” The actual line here is actually more ridiculous though: “Unite as a family, together we walk, we’ll never be alone, we’ll be forever true, so keep your fucking mouth shut, and get your shit out of my way.” All well and good (well, no, it’s cheesy as all hell), but the line flows against the music and basically sounds like a retarded white guy from Westchester, New York trying to get in good with the most badass South American drug dealers ever. To say “it doesn’t quite work” is the understatement of the year.
And then there’s “The Mirror,” an amazing, melodic metal instrumental that completely betrays everything on this disc because it’s so shockingly good. THIS is the best track on the disc (told ya I’d get to it)! It shrugs off the formulaic approach of earlier tracks, it features fantastic melodic heaviness, and smooth, fluent harmonic solos. Breathy keys overtake the track and lend beautiful opposition to the grungy open chords before moving into a stoner rock anthem. Discordant, heavily distorted notes grind out the last teeth-clenching seconds of this amazing track. Where the hell did this track come from? It feels like some other band forgot to take their songs from whatever studio this was recorded in and the producer said, “Hell, this hasn’t been claimed in two weeks, so I’m throwing it on Awaken Demons’ disc.” Completely out of sync with the rest of the album, and totally amazing.
As with all music, at least take a listen before you pass on the disc. You’re tastes might be different than mine. But if the above didn’t sell you and a sample of some the tracks doesn’t change your mind, you might want to look for something by a more refined outfit.