Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Bloodlined Calligraphy - They Want You Silent CD Review

It is quite rare to see a metal or hardcore band fronted by a woman, especially when you take into account the type of vocal performances that are usually necessitated by being a part of either of the two genres. A feminine voice isn’t exactly all that well suited to growling and barking. If anything, almost 100% of the time that you hear female vocals in a metal or hardcore song, it’s in melodic form, pre-recorded, usually as a part of an intro, outro, or interlude, and used to serve as the polar opposite of the extreme nature of the band’s music. Over the last few years There have been a few semi-successful female fronted bands to shine through—Otep, Kittie, and Walls of Jericho to name the most well known of the lot. With They Want You Silent, Bloodlined Calligraphy have thrown their hat into the female fronted metalcore arena, but don’t expect a lot of success to follow.

While listening to the 10 tracks contained on this release, you’ll be hard pressed to recognize the vocals as coming from the throat of one of the fairer sex. The ferocity of the screaming, yelling, and growling (yes, there are times when Ally French’s vocals sound uncannily like a masculine growl, such as on “I May Have Been Born Yesterday”) is not something you’d usually recognize as coming from a woman. There are a few scant moments when Ally uses her singing voice or talks instead of belting out the lyrics, but the majority of the time she sticks to the same, extremely loud, approach. The few melodic moments were actually very welcome and in the future it would do these guys good to utilize it a little more. On occasion the rest of the band will join in for some gang screams, so Ally doesn’t go at it completely alone, but these moments are few and far between.

The underlying music beneath Ally’s throaty performance is, unfortunately, your standard metalcore approach. The great majority of each song is loaded with chugga chugga riffs that either lead up to a breakdown or a thrash inspired guitar solo. If there were a stronger focus on the thrashy, more intricately natured aspects of their songs and less time spent on setting up breakdowns, I think Bloodlined Calligraphy would quickly turn into one of the must-hear bands in the HXC scene. As it is, though, there’s simply a lot of unfocused metalcore riffing going on throughout this disc which you will eerily feel you’ve heard somewhere else… which you probably have, and also done much, much better.

There are a few standout moments that deserve note, however. “A Variety of Damage” is actually a nice, quick paced, fun track. It moves along briskly with guitar licks leading the way, all the while your foot tapping along in pace. If any song on this disc could make someone spontaneously hardcore dance, this one’s it.

The track “Saturday Night in Dixie” is easily the best song on this disc for no other reason than it’s slightly different than the rest of the disc. It starts out with some basic thrashing followed by a chunk of metalcore chugging, but once the song hits its stride during the bridge, which makes good use of Unearth-esque guitar high-tones, it’ll hit you hard right before segueing into an interesting southern, Pantera flavored ending. If every song on this disc were to branch out in different directions such as on this track, you’d have a killer metalcore disc on your hands, but they don’t. The rest of the release sees them sticking firmly within the bounds of the basic metalcore template that so many other bands have used.

If you really need to get your Christian hardcore on and want to do it to a female fronted HXC band, you could easily do worse than Bloodlined Calligraphy, but like 95% of the metalcore audience out there you’ll probably be looking for something new and interesting in this flooded genre, which is something these guys (and gal) can’t give you.

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