Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Twelve Tribes - Midwest Pandemic CD Review

Ferret Records are honestly on one hell of a roll and, if you look at their list of releases this year, have a ridiculously good crap to quality ratio. For every lackluster release, such as discs from Heavy Heavy Low Low and Remembering Never, there have been at least double the amount of good releases. Look at the high caliber releases from Misery Signals, Dead Hearts, Zao, and In Flames that have recently hit, and on top of that you can expect a new Chimaira effort early next year. With such gargantuan footsteps to follow in, Twelve Tribes had their work cut out for them. They may not have been able to live up to Mirrors or Come Clarity, but Midwest Pandemic is still as solid of a release as they come.

Building on the momentum gathered after releasing The Rebirth of Tragedy, Twelve Tribes puts forth a more mature and thicker form of metalcore this time around. All you Hot Topic kiddies be warned, there is nothing “scene” about this release, despite the metalcore tag. To start to describe the contents of Midwest Pandemic, imagine, if you will, Tear from the Red era Poison the Well. The song structures that were used on that effort were revolutionary for their time. Twelve Tribes, instead of following current trends of simple songs structures created solely around build ups to breakdowns, have hearkened back to the type of metalcore structuring used by early Poison the Well, but instead of simply copying the band, they’ve added dimensions all their own.

The thickness of Twelve Tribes’ sound is the biggest differentiation present in regards to today's scene. Playing with older metalcore templates in place, a solidity of guitars, much akin to label mates Misery Signals, transforms something old into something fresh and new. In stark difference to the unending wall of noise that the aforementioned band is so ridiculously good at, Twelve Tribes safely (not “playing it safe”, mind you) changes up tempos and is able to introduce passages of contemplative musical introspection. Yes, those three words were just used together in a sentence describing a band other than your post rock band du jour. It’s a given that the songs here are not as complex as that, but in comparison to their peers (ie: It Dies Today or Four Letter Lie), it’s definitely a valid description.

Rest assured, there are plenty of blisteringly heavy moments that are sure to get your adrenal glands leaking, most notably the opening 2 minute track, “National Amnesia”, which is (if you believe it) merely a prelude to the bruising “Muzzle Order”, which not only establishes the tone of the album and the ability of the band, but brings out some subtle early Deftones overtones. This influence will creep up throughout the album, usually in the vocals department during the rare melodic moment, and only adds to the potent fusion of modern and classic metal and metalcore sounds.

Before the disc is done, you’ll have heard the past, the present, and even glimpsed at one potential future for the metalcore genre. “The Recovery (In Three Parts)” closes the album with a nearly 9 minute culmination of everything that Twelve Tribes brings to the table —- a progressive leaning, the ability to be barragingly heavy, and the smarts to know how to make a song work without resorting to common scene clich├ęs. Ferret, you can put another checkmark in the win column.

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