Friday, December 30, 2005

Review: The Greatest Fear - The Coronation of the Locust Queen (2005)

The Greatest Fear [ Website | MySpace ]
The Coronation of the Locust Queen
Red Room Records

Southern California's The Greatest Fear  is an intriguing outfit. Core members Brian Saunders (drums) and Jane Alisabeth Saunders (vocals, synth, flute) employ various session musicians for recording and touring duties, though a fully cohesive line up appears to be an ultimate goal for the duo. The Coronation of the Locust Queen is the band's debut long-player, featuring Gonny Shimura on guitar and Felix Nunez on bass (who remains with the band for touring purposes). All but two of the twelve tracks were penned solely by charismatic frontwoman Jane, giving the album quite a consistent thematic feel. Anger, malevolence, rebellion, spite - words that spring to mind when listening to Jane's poisoned lyrics. Lending the words absolute lethality is Jane's expressive, multi-layered vocals. Some may hate her style, others may be absorbed by it, but there's no denying her ability to fascinate the listener and no doubts as to her frame of mind when putting pen to paper. Her shrieks, shouts and whispers soar above the radio-friendly Gothic melodies served up by her bandmates, hinting at influences ranging from Nine Inch Nails to Marilyn Manson and Lacuna Coil.

Radio-friendly is an apt phrase when considering the music of The Greatest Fear. Hoping to hitch to the established success of bands like Evanescence, and perhaps even the introspective sounds of Creed, The Coronation of the Locust Queen is an assortment of accessible yet dark guitar melodies and haunting vocal harmonies, punctuated by a familiarity that will appeal to mainstream listeners without wholly alienating those brooding in the underground. While most tracks share a similar central sound, each is varied enough through riff patterns and Jane's vocalizations to keep the album from becoming stale and repetitive. The first track to stand above the rest is "Let It Go", with prominent bass riffs and Jane's expansive vocal delivery. The sorrowful, plucky bass of "New World Catastrophe" drives the mid-point of the album as Jane weaves a vocal tapestry of contempt and reprisal. Closing out the album is "Les Nuages", a track that departs from the main formula of all previous tracks and instead embarks on an ethereal, almost synth-pop journey. Having written the song as a lullaby for her husband Brian, Jane drops her signature enraged approach and takes on a coy, popish style that reminds me of Sarah McLachlan or Tori Amos. Not metal in the least, but a remarkably pleasing way to close out a solid debut album.

The intense vocals of Jane Saunders enables The Greatest Fear to rise above clone status, giving The Coronation of the Locust Queen credibility in a genre that is quickly becoming crowded with sub-par sound-alikes. Fans who like their music dark with a hint of an industrial edge should at the very least give the album a try, and may in fact find themselves pleasantly surprised by what these Californians have to offer.

Track Listing
1 God Is Not Love 2:36
2 Let It Go 2:30
3 Force Feed 3:54
4 Privilege 3:02
5 Prelude to the New World 0:47
6 New World Catastrophe 4:29
7 My Master 3:51
8 Opus Dei 4:44
9 Just For Today 4:34
10 Las Conversaciones Con El Diablo 3:51
11 The Suicide Table 5:14
12 Las Nuages 4:24

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