Frankie and Masoud’s Clued-in Reviews! Today we tear into Earsplit!
Published on March 18th, 2012 | by Frankie and Masoud
Masoud: Well hello there people of Kuwait. It has been a while hasn’t it? We apologise for being away for so long. Frankie was doing a Beijing trip and hence was away from his desk for quite a while.
Frankie: But what matters is that we are here now and ready to review the next album. Today we have the music of Earsplit for you – a Kuwait-based heavy metal band who are axing their way to stardom even as we speak. Their music is a throwback to the good ol’ days of heavy metal when being angry all the time seemed like a mentally-balanced way of living and you could wear any colour at all, so long as it was black. Some bands, I’m glad to say, have seen it as important to keep Heavy Metal’s roots intact and Earsplit is definitely one of the aforementioned. Though I’m not exactly sure why they all have to wear shades.
Masoud: I think they do that in Kuwait anyway, Frankie.
Frankie: My, how fashionable!
Masoud: SO … Let me start off by saying this is one of the most well-produced English language albums that I’ve heard out of Kuwait for a while. Although I have minor quibbles about the volume of the bass on a few tracks, by and large this is a polished, semi-professional album.
Frankie: Exactly. It’s obvious that a large amount of work has gone into this – from the writing of the lyrics and instrumental parts, the design work and the recording. Look at the language for instance. Now you’re unlikely to be writing long, flowing lines of poetry on a metal album. What you want are fairly clear themes and strong, hard-hitting lyrics that are evocative of the energy and emotion in the genre. This is clearly felt throughout the album.
Masoud: Absolutement! Life, death, destiny, love, hate, power, destruction and hope – Earsplit takes them all on while paying homage to fantasy fiction (which I love). These are traditionally strong and epic themes for Metal and Power Metal bands to be playing with.
What of the lyrics? Well, I have to say that I am quite impressed. The second verse of Free your Soul is particularly evocative. They put me in mind of Native American imagery.
Like an eagle way up in the sky
Harness the winds that rush by.
Head to head, take on the path.
Cut the stream, fly up high
Speak to the thunder roar for a roar.
It’s time don’t give up
It’s time to soar!
Fifth line – genius!
Frankie: Now there is a slight problem that needs to addressed. It’s a crucial correction for any band wanting to claw their way to the top. So Earsplit listen up: Get someone to check the grammar and pronunciation of your lyrics.
Although this doesn’t pop up too often, when it does it’s a glaring error. You’re using quite a wide and intense vocabulary so take extra precautions to make sure words are being used correctly.
A few examples: Don’t mix your Vs and Ws, ‘Degenerate’ is not pronounced how you use it, and on the same track the use of the word ‘intake’ is not quite right.
It’s obvious you take your music seriously. It just makes sense to show the same level of professionalism when it comes to lyrics. I know you live in a place where nobody can spell, as evidenced by the fact that restaurant menus are currently Kuwait’s number one tourist attraction – but that’s really no excuse!
Masoud: Let’s talk vocal delivery. I like the lead vocals on these tracks – although I know Frankie is not really a fan of old school metal vocals. But I enjoy the way the vocalist takes a fixed number of syllables and an inherent rhythm and stretches, bends or squeezes them as he wills. Sometimes he’ll make the most of a single syllable, stretching it out (like in The Crossroad). Sometimes he’ll give a simple word some interesting rhythmical emphases. The background vocals are also very good. In particular, Psychohead features an interesting delivery style with two voices singing/speaking which works excellently.
Frankie: That might be true Masoud, but the female vocals in Love Don’t Matter seem completely unnecessary. The talented Kathryn Bibby seems to be used as little more than a filler in this song. Now I know you are a huge fan of female vocals in any sort of metal…
Masoud: Yep. Nightwish, Within Temptation, Arch Enemy. You name it!
Frankie: …but if you are going to include a femme fatale, make sure she is seamlessly integrated into the structure of the song – perhaps even singing seconds or given an entire solo section. As it stands, this track would have been fine with just the boys.
Anyways – onto the music!
Masoud: Alright. First the good news – both Biohazardous Disease and Psychohead feature some GREAT lead synth/organs. There is also a quality bass player on this album who unfortunately gets stuck somewhere in the background and only really shines on a couple of tracks including what is fast becoming my favourite on the album – Psychohead.
There are also some very solid riffs and rhythms on almost every track. Some worthy mentions:
• Doubling the guitar towards the end of Biohazardous Disease
• Fantastic rhythmic and melodic interplay (from 3:58) on Degenerate Warlocks
• The Crossroad – a song that allows this album to breathe deeply in the middle of all the intensity.
Earsplit don’t seem too afraid to try new things. In fact if there is any encouragement I can give them, it’s to be even more adventurous. Throw off your shackles and go for gold. You are a metal band and no one will ever think otherwise but that does not mean that you can’t try interesting things within your genre.
Frankie: Exactly Masoud! The guitar solos and the drumming are both competent, but I think the drums need to do MORE than the average metal drummer and not be satisfied with metal’s traditional rhythms.
There also needs to be so much more time given to writing exciting guitar solos. You need to move away from minor pentatonic and blues-oriented scales with the odd bending here and there. Don’t anchor solos to a few base notes. Chuck it! Go modal, go jazz, go gypsy, hit some discord intentionally – whatever. Make it heart wrenching. Take time in writing it out and tweaking it here and there. It is possible because once in a while, the solos or techniques used are stellar. Harmonics and whatever the hell is happening at 2:20 in Free Your Soul are a great idea but we want more – MOOOOOOOORE!
Masoud: So here’s the verdict. Do Earsplit Rock? Oh yes they do – although they are yet to take it to the intensity that would make the name Earsplit an accurate one. Would I buy the album? Hell yes. You can rock out to it, you can contemplate the lyrics, you can get excited by some of the experimental things being done. Psychohead needs special mention – great energy, great bass work, great lyrics, a lead guitar coming out of its shell, innovative almost folk-dance rhythmic devices being used at 4:07 and a sweet ass organ that reminds me of Iron Butterfly or even the Doors.
Frankie: Things to look out for – Don’t make your songs too long. Some of these go on for a bit. You’ve started to experiment – keep at it and go further. The drums and solo guitaring could be more adventurous, and give the bass some more clear space to do his thing.
At the same time don’t parade it all around one after the other in an artificial way. That’s the problem with Love Don’t Matter which features a female singer and a piano that just seem to be there for the sake of being there. Make the new things you try crucial to the song. Of course the most important piece of advice is to check and recheck that all your lyrics are written and delivered without fault.
So there you have it. Keep on rocking in the free world – or alternatively stay in Kuwait.
Masoud: Right. Don’t forget that you can send us your albums for review – but we also do reviews on individual tracks for your benefit. So until next time this is Frankie and Masoud signing off. Adios!
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