Thursday, 9 March 2017

Mutiny Within's 'Origins' - Album Review

Mutiny Within were once a hotly-tipped act. Their mix of soaring melodic metalcore mixed with tight progressive metal tendencies was a sound that many could get behind, and their self-titled debut album, released through the prestigious label Roadrunner Records, received countless rave reviews from all corners of the metal world. They supported bands like Sonata Arctica and Soilwork, which shows the diverse fanbase their music can attract, during this time but sadly split up the following year as part of what appeared to be an acrimonious and rather public disagreement with Roadrunner. Despite not performing live since this split, Mutiny Within have still remained active sporadically. The following year, 2012, the band announced that they would finish and release the album they had been working on when they split. The result, Mutiny Within II: Synchronicity (which I reviewed here), was released in 2013 and again received positive reviews. Being a totally independent release, the album was released digitally, but at the time it seemed to provide some closure on the whole mess surrounding the band's demise. In retrospect, the album still sounds somewhat unfinished with many of the songs seeming to never really reach their full potential. That being said Synchronicity is still an enjoyable listen and contains plenty of songs that are extremely memorable and catchy. Four years later, the world has another Mutiny Within album! Originally announced to be an EP of new material, the band worked over a long period of time to create the music which has been released as Origins, the band's third full-length album. Unlike Synchronicity, this feels like a proper, fully-developed album and seems to be the true follow up to the band's 2010 debut release. Due to the unavailability of some of the band, only four of the band actually worked on and contributed to this album, but the result is a real team effort with all four members of Mutiny Within really working hard to make Origins a strong and forward-thinking metal album. Frontman Chris Clancy, who now fronts English melodic rockers Wearing Scars (who released their debut album A Thousand Words in 2015, which I reviewed here), took on all the behind-the-scenes production and studio-related duties here and the result sounds huge. Daniel Bage is now the band's sole lead guitarist, and also takes on all the album's keyboard and programming this time. He proves to be a formidable keyboardist too, sometimes even opting to throw a keyboard solo into a song instead of a guitar solo! Bassist Andrew Jacobs also contributes some rhythm guitars to the album, which just shows how the band really mucked in to get this done! Drummer Bill Fore also created all of the album's artwork, which looks great - especially on the limited edition pre-order CD release of the album which is now sadly unavailable. The album is, of course, still available digitally however.

The album opens with the short instrumental title track, which helps to set the tone for what is to come with brooding synths and sparse piano melodies. This segues into Archetype of Destruction which is immediately heavy with Fore's furious death metal-style drumming and a harsh bark from Clancy. He does not use his harsh vocals at all with Wearing Scars, so it is great to hear him let rip again here with some furious growls. This song feels like they were trying to write the perfect Mutiny Within song, and they have succeeded with a perfect mix of heavy sections and soaring melodic sections with Clancy's clean vocals and subtle lead guitar melodies. Fore even throws in a few blast beats here and there, which really ramps up the heaviness. Bage's guitar solo is fluid and memorable too, and is less of a speed-fest than you might have thought given the song's overall tempo. Justify is more calculated and measured, with a great anthemic opening with ascending guitar notes that bring old-school melodic metalcore to mind. The song is still pretty heavy however, but chugs along at a solid mid-pace throughout with lots of great groove in the riffs and drumming. The song's chorus is the first moment on the album that really begs to be sung and really helps to elevate the song to the next level. Bage shows off his keyboard skills too with a flashy run early on that does what no equivalent guitar line could do. This is the sort of uplifting song that their debut album was packed full of, and would surely be extremely popular if the band were to reach a bigger audience. Silent Weapons features the first of three special guests on the album, as Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry) performs the song's guitar solo. Rather unsurprisingly, the song is more on the progressive end of the band's songwriting style, and features lots of harsh vocals from Clancy. That being said, it is still very melodic with a slightly mournful chorus which really oozes out of the speakers. Nilsson's solo is a wacky and technical as any Scar Symmetry fan will know, and it really adds to the overall proggy feel of the song. Reasons, like Justify, is somewhat simpler but it features another guest in the form of Andy James (Sacred Mother Tongue; Budgie; Fields of the Nephilim; Wearing Scars), Clancy's Wearing Scars bandmate, who contributes a guitar solo. Ironically, the song actually has more in common with the more melodic rock sound of that band than with the majority of the Mutiny Within canon, but it still fits in well here with a stunning vocal display from Clancy. As far as his cleans go, this song really shows him at his best. The song's chorus is a real winner too, and packs a real emotional punch with lots of subtle vocal harmonies to bring out the mood. Internal Dissension is heavier and, like the opening song, packs a lot into a short space of time. Bage's keyboard playing really shines on the song with lots of atmospheric backing pieces and lots of leads, especially under Clancy's vocals during the chorus. That being said, he does let rip with the guitar at the end of the song with some fantastic arpeggiated leads that bring the song to an almost djent-like end.

On first listen, Circles was the song that really stood out to me and after many listens it is still my favourite on the album. The Killswitch Engage influence is very prominent here with heavy choruses and a big, emotional chorus. The verses are great, and the grinding guitar riffs fit well with the good old-fashined double bass drumming from Fore. It is the chorus where the song really takes off however, with some of the strongest melodies of the entire album. It is one of those choruses that just sticks in your head instantly and begs to be sung. The keyboards used throughout have a great, almost choral value which adds a lot to the song too. Bage's guitar solos are great too, and shows he can outsmart the guests brought in! Serenity features the album's last guest, this time in the form of vocalist Justin Hill (SikTh) who also contributed some vocals to the band's first album. His higher pitched harsh vocals are a good contrast to Clancy's lower growls and the two share vocal lines throughout to good effect. The keyboard line early one really jumps out too, as it is packed full of power metal-quality playing. It does sound a little out of place, but it is also great because it is so ridiculous! As with many of the songs here, it is extremely memorable and is full of the band's trademark melodies. Stay Forever is another favourite, and the song's main riff instantly hooks you in with a big melody that transitions into a fairly aggressive and heavy verse which is surprisingly angsty. It is the chorus that is the song's main selling point however, and Clancy's long, drawn out notes really grab you and fail to let go. Despite the soaring choruses, the song remains pretty heavy throughout, with plenty of driving drumming and a fast, shredded guitar solo. Not wishing to go out on a whisper, Secrets opens with a flurry of metal drumming and a heavy riff to herald the album's final song. While not the heaviest here by any means, it is a strong one with plenty of big melodies. There are a couple of different ideas too. Firstly the slightly gothic choral arrangements that are used throughout give the song a real epic, cinematic quality that is not the norm for the band; and secondly there are some great retro synth sounds used throughout - especially on the lengthy keyboard solo part-way through. While other songs here are stronger, Secrets ensures the album ends on a high. Overall, Origins is a really strong album from Mutiny Within which may in time eclipse their debut album from seven years ago. While the band has approached the songwriting in a similar way to before and no massively new ideas are used, the album feels fresh and full of highlights. It is a shame that Mutiny Within will probably never again be a touring entity, but if they continue to release new music periodically I am sure their many fans will remain happy!

The self-released album was released on 10th February 2017. Below is the band's promotional soundclip for Archetype of Destruction.

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