Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Green Evening Requiem - Bastards of Atlas (2009) 45/100.

I first came across The Green Evening Requiem when I was looking over the Woe page for information. As a highly rated black metal band, I assumed Woe would have associated bands with whom I could also look into in the hope of finding something unique and worthwhile. I checked out a sample of The Green Evening Requiem’s material on social networking website MySpace and, although I don’t recall what song I heard of theirs, I enjoyed it enough to look into getting their full-length debut, entitled ‘Bastards of Atlas’. Released independently, I was always bound to be somewhat apprehensive, as I always am when checking out unsigned acts, but going by the sheer hype behind these musicians through their work with Woe, I assumed everything would be fine and that I was needlessly worrying about nothing. However, the curse of the independent act has struck again, unfortunately. Having said this, I don’t necessarily believe the problem lies entirely in the production, despite the fact that it doesn’t cut into the listeners mind to leave a permanent reminder of the material. The song writing suffers from a genuine lack of invention throughout, though certain parts of certain songs can dispel this fear, if only briefly.

It is often the case with independent acts that the instrumentation is usually poorly recorded and although that isn’t quite the case in regards to The Green Evening Requiem, the instrumentation could definitely do with professional, and expensive, studio equipment to help ease the woes, if you’ll excuse the pun, of the musicians because certain areas sound flat, or overcome with fear due to the daunting presence of other, more distinguishable areas, like the vocals, for instance. The problems which the band run into are rather unusual. The vocals, as with most independent acts with limited resources, takes precedence in and amongst the instrumentation, often becoming overbearing, whilst areas like the percussion sounds incredibly weak, so much so that the bass has more drive than it. The double bass on a drum set is usually punctuating and at the heart of the music, but on songs like ‘If Ever So’, the double bass is barely recognisable over the power of the vocals.

In fact, the bass instrument itself plays a far more significant role on songs like this and is a constantly audible throughout, whereas the double bass of the percussion tends to filter into the background when it should be penetrating the forefront of the atmospherics, which are low on impact anyway. Unfortunately, the vocals have the main role of the band and they’re generally sub par. Shane Madden, who often performs live for Woe, is the vocalist here and he provides a sound which is stuck between a deathly growl and a domineering scream. It seems like he is torn between two opposing styles when, in actual fact, he probably knew exactly what he was aiming for, which probably makes the end result all the more disappointing when one takes into consideration the fact that these musicians have successfully written and played for bands like Woe and Woods of Ypres. Although some of the instrumentation appears to be rather laboured, there are some quirky areas which make The Green Evening Requiem more bearable than they probably should be, despite the constant pain of the underwhelming drums -- which are seemingly the sole representation of black metal on the record -- and rather lacklustre guitar riffs when the songs pick up from a slow, cleaner pace to a mid-paced tempo during songs like ‘Severance’.

‘Severance’ is definitely a good example of where The Green Evening Requiem went horribly wrong. Beginning with a soothing pace, ‘Severance’ starts with an adventurous bass section, perhaps one of the better instruments on the record, and a light, flavoursome guitar with some neat effects, but the consistency of the song is ruined by the changed in pace when the band try to move up a gear and unfortunately find themselves, like a learner driver with limited knowledge on cars, unable to handle the power of the transition between slower, more concentrated sections, to fumbling, uninspired sections with those terribly flat sounding drums and difficult vocals. Shane Madden doesn’t appear to be an experienced vocalist and it tells throughout the course of the record. He normally performs bass for Woods of Ypres and although he also does so here, and generally well, his vocal talents leave a lot to be desired. Clean vocals do occasionally come into play and whilst they’re much, much better than the harsh vocals, they’re too sparse to consider promising amidst the troubled soundscapes.

The band also have difficulty with mixing and matched the black and doom metal sounds. The vocals appear to be stuck between the two, whilst the guitars shift between all sorts of different influences without ever really concentrating properly on one, giving the record a very uneven feel for almost the entirety of the records duration. Songs like ‘Severance’, again, point to psychedelic influences hidden beneath the dire “extreme” instrumentation as when the song slows down, the psychedelic vibes flow like a calm stream down the face of a beautiful rolling hill in mid autumn. Given the extent of the problems, I stress the importance of The Green Evening Requiem keeping songs short and sweet to avoid becoming tedious, but they have a few songs which reach towards the ten minute mark and two which exceed it. Though the problems are only small, they do mount when the sheer number of them becomes evident. Tedium only grows when the songs extend in length. The style of the band doesn’t deal well with extended visions of the lyrical themes, which includes desolation, a theme which is seemingly meant to be portrayed in the inadequate vocals. A largely uninspired affair.

No comments:

Post a Comment