Adversity, Phoenixes and Potential Driving Music, A Naugrim Review: By M H Thomson
Adversity, Phoenixes and Potential Driving Music, A
By M H Thomson
Metalcore and groove metal have long been subgenres of metal that I’ve cherished over the years, so you’d reckon that a metalcore band that throws some complex Lamb of God style riffs into the mix would be something I’d get right into, suffice it to say that is not the case with Naugrim. Unfortunately the Blue Mountains outfit's debut EP “Adversity” left me utterly perplexed, wondering just how on earth such a promising-sounding genre combination could be so banal.
All five of the EP’s tracks follow such similar tropes as to be, at times, indistinguishable from one another. A dizzying blend of complex and melodious guitar riffs, breakdowns, blast beats and very dry raspy vocal deliveries. Although similar, each track does have its own unique highlights peppered throughout. The first track “Destroyer” is a fast-paced groovy gut punch of a tune that introduces some vocalist Greg McManus’ wicked vocal layering (that will continue throughout the EP) and has a nice guitar lead break towards the end. The following track “Severed” is a more traditional modern metalcore number with some nice pig squeal overtones blended into the titular verse and a breakdown so brutal that it put me in mind of early Whoretopsy. These two numbers share similar vocal themes, both seemingly about losing some kind of faith be it in a person, a religion or humanity in general.
“Avolition” has a slightly slower, more plodding tempo which opens up room to accommodate some much more emotive and expressive guitar work from axemen Matt Perry and Luke Boyd, especially in the intro and during the mid-song solo, both of which remind me of late 2000’s Parkway Drive. The lyrics and especially the vocal patterns here are very Suicide Silence, “You Only Live Once” specifically came to mind. The fourth entry “Accursed” is regrettably a low point on the record, leaving very little in the way of a lasting noteworthy impression musically. It is very much more of the same groovy metalcore with a classic chuggy breakdown and the odd riff or vocal delivery that reminds you of some other song, this time Lamb of Gods “Memento Mori”. All very by the book metalcore stuff.
The EP’s final offering “From the Ashes” again is musically par for the course but the vocals really shine here. The way the end of the verse leads seamlessly into the chorus and the way said chorus follows the rhythm guitar part which both plays so nicely off the lead guitar riff, all really helps sell the determination in the lyrics. The title of this track was a bit of a letdown for me as I was hoping for a unique or interesting take on the titular phrase rather than the rather tired and predictable phoenix rising metaphor.
I did quite enjoy the clever way that the lyrical theming flows through this record. It follows a journey starting out with faithlessness, moving to aptly titled “Avolition”, then to self-destruction and then finally to determination to start anew in the latter couple of songs. This reflects the well-chosen EP title and vocalist Gregs’ concept for the album, as according to the press release he stated that he aimed for this record to act as“a medium to reflect on and deal with my own past discretions, from a third perspective [sic] and to acknowledge how time can change things.”
It is therefore rather a shame that the lyrics' litany of generic metaphors and too often forgettable musical accompaniment makes it so hard for me to fully invest in the vocalist's obvious sincerity.
As I’m sure you can well imagine this EP overall has turned out to not really be my cup of tea, I can however see how it definitely could be for others. Generally speaking “Adversity” has some great energy and good vibes, and I can imagine this music being great to mosh to. I cannot however see myself revisiting it outside of maybe having it on in the car, somewhere where most of your attention is focused on a task other than the music, and this EP certainly would not act as much of a distraction. This is a bit of pity really, considering this release has clearly had a good amount of effort poured into it from the lyrical theming and technical prowess of the musicians to the crisp and modern production from producer Matt Clarke.
I may have been disappointed by this EP but you may not be, so if like me a groove metal/metalcore crossover sounds like it should be your thing, you should definitely give this one a go.
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