Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: Akentra - Asleep (2010)

Akentra [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]

Taking their name from a seemingly obscure genus of tropical carnivorous plant, France's Akentra are throwing their hat into the female-fronted rock ring with their debut full-length Asleep. The dark riffs from Habib Mas and Thomas Boileux combine with the no-nonsense, Pat Benatar-esque vocal style of frontwoman Lucia Ferreira to produce an overall sound that straddles the line between the Gothic rock/metal of bands like Lacuna Coil and the straight-up ass-kicking of bands like Halestorm. Mid-paced for the most part, Asleep will certainly appeal to a wide range of rock fans. Such an appeal can be a double-edged sword, however, when sticking to well-charted waters results in a sound that could be dismissed as being too generic.

The down-tuned riffs are executed with precision and, for the most part, contain a fair amount of drive. Mas and Boileux tend to prefer simplicity over innovation, though there's nothing at all wrong with that since the six-stringers get a little flashy here and there with their solos - particularly on "Alive" and "Alone". A little experimentation does seep into Akentra's songwriting on "New Game" which, besides being the speediest track on Asleep, finds the keyboards contributing a bit more than just background atmosphere. Ferreira also dabbles with Auto-Tune toward the latter moments of the song, which results in a bit of a pop flavoring that is thankfully limited to this one track. The rest of the album finds Ferreira delivering a strong, mid-ranged performance with only occasional layering. She's definitely got the chops to front a rock band and knows how to use her range to her advantage.

Asleep is a good, safe album. So safe, in fact, that it's been quite difficult to put together a meaningful review. On the one hand, the album is almost flawless. Ferreira is a strong singer, Mas and Boileux deliver riffs that are easy to absorb, and the rhythm section of Stéphane Rayot (bass) and Steve Tilmant don't miss a beat. That being said, aside from "New Game", Asleep doesn't offer much in the way of variety. So is Asleep worth purchasing? If you're a fan of female-fronted rock, you won't regret picking this one up. The production is pristine, the packaging first-rate, and the music enjoyable.

Track Listing
2Do My Best4:39
3Gimme Your Gun3:32
5New Game3:53
8Make Up3:35
9Just Close Your Eyes4:42
10Follow Me3:51
11My Left Foot4:30
Total Runtime50:28

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