Friday, 18 January 2013

Mutiny Within's 'Mutiny Within II: Synchronicity' - Album Review

Due to that fact that so often this blog is just acting as a portal to my concert reviews, I have decided to give it some more exclusive content by writing album reviews as well. I used to do some on Amazon but I have not written on there for a few years because they started not posting them for an unknown reason. I shall only be reviewing new albums - not just any old albums which are new to me. Whether or not I shall do one for every new album I get or not will be down to time. Ideally I would like to but as I am in my final year of University, assignments and dissertation must take priority. It might take a few of these to really get into the style of writing album reviews, which are a totally different beast from live reviews, but I hope that people will find them interesting to read as I have always found reviews of albums on other people's blogs a great way of finding out about new albums and new bands.

My first album review is a strange one. Mutiny Within II: Synchronicity was released on 12th January 2013 and it was one that many fans never thought they would see released. The band's self-titled debut album was released via Roadrunner Records in 2010 and they were hotly tipped as one of the best up and coming metal acts of the year. Boasting support slots with bands like Sonata Arctica and Soilwork they had built up a dedicated global fanbase who were foaming at the mouth to hear more songs from the young band, but in mid 2011 the band annouced that they would be taking an indefinate hiatus for financial and label-related reasons. Many people thought that this was to be the end of Mutiny Within but in mid 2012 the band annouced that they were going to finish the album they were working on when they annouced the hiatus. Synchronicity is that album and it was released totally independently with no label backing whatsoever. As a result, the album is only avaliable digitally.

After that little bit of context, let us now get down to the music. Their sound is a mix between modern metalcore and progressive metal, but with a huge emphasis on melody and song writing. I would loosely describe their sound as a mix between Killswitch Engage and the more commercial side of Queensr├┐che. The album kicks off with the impressive Embers with a delicious vocal melody in the verse that really emphasises the talents of frontman Chris Clancy. The song, and indeed the album, is heavy yet that never takes anything away from the delicate melodies intertwined in each and every song. Embers is a tour-de-force in restrained virtuosity and the short, yet effective guitar solo hits much harder than one of meandering complexity. The following song In My Veins sits more in the metalcore camp than Embers with more harsh vocals being utilised in the verses and a heart-tugging chorus that soars above the discordant guitar work. The drumming throughout is tight and fast without overpowering the rest of the band. Bill Fore must be credited for his great drum sound and feel which is perfect for the overall picture that the album paints.

The next highlight is Machines. It is one of the faster-paced modern metal songs and has some gut-wrenching screams from Clancy before breaking into what will probably be one of the biggest choruses of the year. This song is Clancy's moment to shine and also features some great blast beats from Fore. Keyboards take a noticeable back seat on this album, probably because keyboardist Drew Stavola left the band before this album was recorded. However they are still underpinning the entire sound and Lights has a moody piano intro that sets the mood for the whole song. It is a slower number which feels like a ballad while still maintaining a metal edge. The guitarwork in the chorus by Brandon Jacobs and Daniel Bage is melodic yet haunting and a great compliment to the vocals. The leadwork under the vocals almost sounds like something Marillion's Steve Rothery would be playing if he was in a metal band and makes it one of the best songs on the album. Up next is Balance which gets back to proper metal with some ferocious drumming, a great verse riff over which Clancy lays down some vicious screams and a really discordant breakdown which really throws the listener with a change of pace. There is also a great twin-guitar solo in the middle followed by a rousing section of spoken work over more great lead-work.

Coming towards the end of the album the pace does not let up one bit, this really is an album full of vengeance. Life to Dust is another great vocal track and you can tell that Clancy really is putting all of his heart and soul into every word of every song. It is a song full of angst that manifests in his voice, another delicious guitar riff and a solo full of fretboard pyrotechnics. The final song The Unsaid is a fitting end to a great album with more fast-paced riffing, and fantastic verse melody and yet another soaring chorus. Mutiny Within have created a fantastic album here which for me is much better than their enjoyable debut. I am glad that bass guitarist and principle songwriter Andrew Jacobs decided to finish off the album, as these songs are far too good to be sitting unfinished on his harddrive. If this is to be the end of the band, then they have gone out on a high. The only real negative is the overall sense of 'what could have been' that you get while listening to the album. The likelihood is that these songs will never be performed live which is a real shame as I can imagine what a great show this album would make. Nevertheless, this is nothing short of a masterpiece in the modern melodic metal context which I bought with nothing more than a passing interest after enjoying but never fully digesting their debut album. I never expected it to be this good and I thoroughly recommend it to all metal fans.

The album is avaliable from iTunes, Amazon and in various digital formats from their own Bandcamp page. There is also talk of releasing a few limited edition physical copies too, so become a fan on Facebook or follow them on Twitter for more news on that. Below is the band's promotional video for Embers.

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