Sunday, March 15, 2009

Review: Foreshadow - Nations of Failure (2008)

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Nations of Failure

As metal fans, we sometimes place an awful amount of pressure on emerging bands. Many fans believe that it is no longer enough for a band to be "good", and oftentimes withhold praise unless a band creates an album that is not only "good" but is in some way innovative and exceptional. Because of this, many new bands seek to stretch the boundaries of their chosen style to create a sound that is both groundbreaking and accessible. This is a fine balancing act, indeed, with the band ending up sounding schizophrenic and directionless should they fall short of their goal. With those high expectations in mind, Tampa, Florida's agro-metal outfit Foreshadow put together their debut album Nations of Failure.

Foreshadow's anti-establishment lyrics are buoyed by a sound that is a potent hybrid of Lamb Of God, Slayer, Korn, and a dash of Black Flag. A blend of influences such as these is bound to be volatile, potentially harming the band more than the listener. The first couple of tracks on Nations of Failure teeter on that edge, as the bands tries to fling a number of progressive elements against the wall underneath frontman Steve Coolis' hardcore shouts. There's a lot going on, with some fairly complex time changes and searing guitar runs, which can leave an unsuspecting listener somewhat dazed. "Problem, Reaction, Solution", with its montage of anti-terrorism-related sound bytes and martial riffs, provides a steadying hand as the album veers away from the experimentation and crashes head-first into some highly aggressive tracks. Guitarist Aaron Robinson and bassist Maggot team up to create a very Doomy vibe on "My Crisis", which wound up being one of my favorite songs on the album. The riffs are both sinister and melodic, and Coolis compliments his usual raspy shouts and wails with some clean spoken-word lines that remind me just a bit of Henry Rollins. While the nu-metal tendencies are not entirely absent, the song does feature what I think is Robinson's most interesting solo of the album.

Robinson doesn't stick with melody for long, however, dishing out some furious tremolo riffs on the next three tracks. While the riffs are fairly unremarkable, Richard Hudson takes the opportunity to bash the hell out of his kit with some thunderous double-kick and punishing blast beats. "Anunnaki" finds Maggot's bass joining Robinson's swirling, Black Metal riffs, which for me is a welcome combination. Robinson's solos here and on "Freedom From Fascism" are quite melodic, almost to the point of being anthemic. Tempering the highly aggressive stance of Nations of Failure is the final track, "End Of Innocence", which is a rather classy acoustic instrumental piece punctuated by what sounds like a playground being obliterated by a bomb blast of some sort. Read into that what you will, but overall the track serves as a decent "cooling off period" after more than 30 minutes of blistering anger.

Obviously, with Nations of Failure Foreshadow is trying to set the metal community on its side with an album of spliced styles. They've definitely created an intriguing collection of songs, but there's just not enough here to really blow me away. The album is certainly perched upon that fine line between schizophrenia and innovation, but only precariously so. That being said, I suspect that Foreshadow's next album will be firing on all cylinders - so keep an eye on these guys.

Track Listing
1The Earth Dillema3:50
2Police State Paradise2:59
3Problem, Reaction, Solution3:48
4My Crisis4:46
5MK Ultra3:55
6TRANCEformation Of America2:32
7Obstruction Of Justice4:15
9Freedom From Fascism6:02
10End Of Innocence4:36
Total Runtime40:27

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