Album: Fooled by the Hush
Release year: 2011
Genre: Progressive Metal
Being somebody who’d never heard of this band, I was quite eager to jump in and have a listen:
On my first play through, I was taken aback. There’s a lot different genres mashed into this 5 track CD; from jazz to symphonic metal and from a more progressive rock sound to one that’s driven by industrial metal sounding guitars.
The first track is “Recline in the Fire” and it starts with a sad string section, that slowly swells with horns and drum rolls being added. This is an effective intro into the CD for sure and when the guitars and double bass comes in, it all comes together well. Then comes some choir chants which remind me of some early Nightwish. The song then slows into a drifty bridge with distorted chords thickening up the piano and vocals, followed by another verse that once again fastens the song up with orchestra hits and double kicks. After this comes the solo – primarily pentatonic with a smooth taping sections and finishing with a somewhat messily ended sweep. The outro is abrupt, but in a good way, finishing on those familiar choir chants. This song, for me, started off very well but, after the mid-point, stayed at the same level, which rendered it a somewhat bland second half. It’s still very listenable, though. The solo, I feel, could have done with a couple of more takes to get it a little less noisy and a little smoother.
The next song, “Before the Storm Arrives” starts off with majory chords and male vocals, which genuinely caught me a bit off guard. It’s then followed by a short and warm toned solo, over piano. This sets the song off in a very standard kind of rock mood before switching around completely, going into a jazz sounding verse with very soulful singing and ending the section in a couple of major modulations, that really add to the progressive feel. Silence follows but is interrupted by distorted guitar that really reminds me of Static-X. Then a couple of lead runs by the guitar and then synth with distorted male vocals following after. Then, some clean female vocals that remind me in a way of a Tim Burton movie, in terms of their neatness and drama. The song’s main guitar solo kicks in over some synth lead (mixed with rock organ) sounds which then go into their own jazzy solo over those Static-X chords again. There’s then a to and fro section between the clean female vocals and the distorted male ones. The song’s outro consists of a lead guitar following the same major modulations as before. This song required me to throw away my musical preferences to truly get into and appreciate – which I definitely do – but it didn’t rid the song of some of the things I didn’t like. The mixing and changing of genres is a cool idea on paper, but it so often takes the attention away from what the song is about and that definitely happened with me. I spent more time anticipating the next change than I did listening to the music and words as a whole. This, however, is not always a bad thing as it definitely hooked me in and kept me interested in what was coming next and the tiny gaps of silence between these different styles kept me from thinking too much about how they might not have fit together.
The next song, “Melodic Scream”, starts with a drifty and melodic clean guitar with strings joining that make the song feel very melancholic – something I adore in music. With a voice whispering in your ear, too, this is easily my favourite intro from the CD. The drums and guitar enter now and the solo that follows after is pretty darn tasty. When the vocals come in, it feels stripped down for a couple of bars before the distorted guitar comes in. The drums, I feel, fit the song really well. The singing starts off soft before an opera-esque backing ‘Ah’s come in which help complete the picture. The song strips down even more with just piano and singing which helps you really appreciate the sheer talent in the vocals. A violin comes in and it really does just sound amazing. Again, the distorted guitar comes in and the slow solo that comes in under the vocals sounds so good mixed with everything. However, the rhythm guitar feels a little out of place without drums being there. The outro is very effective – just a piano chord on its own. It ends one of the best songs on the album very well.
The penultimate song, “Chaotic”, blasts out and you can really hear some Israeli influences, led by the synth. An interesting timing sequence follows before the synth leads the song into a verse that I didn’t expect – one with harsh vocals! These are raw, but awesome because of it. It then breaks once again and goes into a slow and echoey clean singing section which almost reminds me of Opeth a little bit. This goes to show just how versatile this band is. A chuggy guitar riff is layered underneath some very Eastern sounding singing which then goes into some harsh vocals which pan from left to right – this is awesome. Later in the song, you hear the harsh vocals mixed with the female ones, though it sounds more like talking, either side of your head which sounds very dramatic. It follows a lyricless heavy section into a bloody bass solo! Followed by another awesome harsh vocals section. This is an amazing song which blends so many different sounds really, really well. This is probably tied my favourite song.
The final song is called “Something’s Wrong” and it starts with some really gruff male vocals which overlap with some clean female vocals that really remind me of Bjork. These voice switch around for the first minute or so, but sound really well. Then the guitars and drums come in with a tasty as f***k rhythm and an equally tasty guitar solo. This then gets wrapped up in some really interesting, half-harsh, male vocals that get modulate up, but very effectively, with string strikes. There’s then a section with just the guitars and drums that sounds very chunky. The next vocal section is backed by some awesome piano runs that run into a guitar solo section that sounds good with the everything backing it, although these sound a lot messier in the gaps between. The some very bouncy jazz bass comes in which sweeps the song into a guitar solo that just sounds absolutely awesome. The fade out ending happens a little too quickly and is a total let down as the bouncy bass and solo are just so good.
All in all, this album blends a lot together and is very interesting and pleasing to listen to. The genre changes that knock you off guard are well executed and flow well, albeit it sometimes distracting. The metal sections are very well written to allow the focus to be on the atmosphere and the vocals, although this means the guitar riffs are a little bland. This, however, is made up by the guitar solos that, despite being a little messy and maybe a little too frequent, show you that each musician is very skilled at what they do. This is especially apparent in the last 3 songs.
The balance of influences is perfect and there’s a real sense of drama and emotion – ranging from happy down to sad. This album blew away the expectations I had and I’d recommend to metal fans that are open-minded enough to appreciate the different influences, or to fans of progressive music in general. I think the biggest, if only, main problem I have with this album is the guitar tone. Being a lead guitarist myself, I can’t help but find problems with it – it’s not crisp enough to fit well with the pounds of the bass drum and it’s not muted enough to get that real chuggy sound and it definitely affects how professional the album sounds – everything else has been very well recorded and the guitar tone definitely adds a raw, almost demo-ish, feel to it which some people might actually like. I, however, definitely feel as though it takes something away from the album.
It’s a good album, most enjoyable It just needs a little neatening up here and there. It’s a solid album and one that’s most definitely unique and original. I’ll continue to look out for this band and I urge others too, as well.
Reviewed by Corvus, of Morlich.