Auditory Armory - Dark MatterI need to get this out of the way immediately: this is not really Kronos‘ kind of record. You see “Progressive Metal” marked on a promo and you never quite know what you’re in for. Usually, it’s Dream Theater worship or worse, djent, but sometimes it’s actually good. In the case of Auditory Armory, it’s an odd mix of mid-paced power/prog/death riffing and sultry female vocals. What’s one to do? Well, review it.

And so I begin. Jump into Dark Matter at just about any point and you’ll come up against the make-or-break vocals of frontwoman April Montallana. She’s all over this record and mixed high up, so she absolutely makes the most of it, poking little nuances of tone all over the place. Montallana’s delivery is unmistakable, though that’s not always for great reasons; the best comparison I can give for her singing style would be a smoothed-out Avril Lavigne1. She’s kind of throaty, breathy, and has a tendency to turn every vowel into an “a.” As with Lavigne, some people are sure to find this pretty endearing, and some will not.

Things come together best on “Love You to Death,” where Montallana’s delivery is backed up with aggressive and interesting instrumentation that really provides her something to sing over. Sure, the bridge is, well, bad, but when she’s doing something closer to a Miny Parsonz impression in the verses, Montallana is quite captivating. The real problem I have with this album isn’t her singing – it’s a taste I’ve not totally acquired, but not a dealbreaker – but the lack of energy in most of Dark Matter. The band seems pretty content to plod along just backing her up, so much so that when “A Path Unknown” breaks out a riff straight out of Human halfway through, it seems like a burst of technicality unparalleled in our time.

Auditory Armory 2017

Worst of all, that Death riff totally sounds like Death. The tones on this album are dry and straight out of the mid-’90s, complete with drum reverb and chunky bass. These sultry vocals don’t fit at all over such a dry, distorted rhythm guitar tone, and that poor axe is just begging to be played fast and loud. Instead of paying homage to their Florida death metal heritage, the band is just regurgitating its sounds in an inappropriate format.

When the band ditches their death metal pretense, as they do for a while on closer “Dark Matter,” they prove they can dish out some interesting and genuinely enjoyable progressive metal, and so long as Montallana can restrain herself from singing “aaaaaaayyyyyy,” she just about complements the instrumentals. But these scattered moments where things come together don’t make up for the record’s dreary pace and the wince-inducing “Cry Little Sister,” which sounds exactly like you fear it does. Auditory Armory feels like a band in a conflict between a desire to play ’90s prog-death and a need to serve a singer who just doesn’t work in that context. Montallana has the personality for sure, but she never puts out the vocal power that would really make her band sound convincing. Amorphis wouldn’t work at all with the singer from The Cranberries2, just as I’m sure The Cranberries would sound pretty odd with either Koskinen or Joutsen on the mic. Dark Matter tries to make itself work, but it’s simply too far a stretch.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320kbps mp3
Label: Self Released
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: July 21st, 2017

Show 2 footnotes

  1. I bet that’s the first time she’s come up on Angry Metal Guy.
  2. Likely also an AMG first.
  • Drew Music

    Aaaaayyyy, nah.
    I’m sorry this happened to you, Kronos. Not brutal, not particularly exciting (to me, anyway), someone owes you an apology.

    • Absolomb

      The only good thing about these mediocre albums is that you can then spin something after and appreciate it tenfold.
      But yeah, Kronos didn’t deserve this.

  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    That lead singer makes my pants tighten in the crotchal regions.

    • Drew Music


    • madhare

      Brutalist Receptacle combined with tightening pants sound like some kind of depressed East German version of Spongebob Squarepants.

    • [not a Dr]

      What did you say? (Couldn’t hear you smashing your keyboard…)

  • I really like The Cranberries and I really don’t like this.

    As for the band photo, which is more important than the music (obviously), the drummer is one weird looking dude and if I’m not mistaken Montallana might be cross eyed.

    • Drew Music

      The drummer looks like some kind of Muppet.

      • Thank you! It’s been bothering me and now I understand!

      • And the guy by behind the drummer is definitely checking out Montallana’s ass.

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        His chin is disappearing.

        • Drew Music

          The chin, that’s it! He’s a muppetized Peter Griffin made flesh.
          God help us all.

  • Planex

    This is interesting in a bad way. Embedded track wasn’t terrible, but not compelling me to listen to more.

  • Nag Dammit

    A pole dancing pirate photo bombed their band photo.

  • Nukenado

    They could take a page out of the Madder Mortem playbook.

    • Kronos

      Most bands could improve by being good.

      • Nukenado

        And by being better.
        (I was referring to the lack of energy, but yeah, my comment does sound a bit vague.)

        • Yeah, absolutely no energy in the music from what I heard.

      • [not a Dr]

        I think that is exactly this band’s problem. The ideas are far from bad, but almost everything about how they were implemented sucks.

  • Thatguy

    Dude, you did not need to hold the sticks for us to know you are the drummer.

    Sadly, if the singer can’t reliably hold pitch – and she can’t – then it’s a 0.0 for me.

    • I dunno, he could be a guitar player in the physical shape of Timo Tolkki. Best to make it obviously.

    • Antilight

      Maybe it’s to distract from the fact that he barely has a chin… just.. neck.

  • The Akerstache

    This is painfully unexciting.

  • Aidan Riess

    Can someone please explain to me why everyone hates Dream Theater so much?

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Only people who are not in Prog Metal bands hate Dream Theater. Because obviously most people in Prog Metal bands love them.

    • I tend to agree with you, Dream Theater was a band that really was on my short list for 10-15 years. I haven’t heard anything since Portnoy left (not like I’m doing so intentionally) but still return to “Awake” and “Images and Words” regularly.

      • Aidan Riess

        I totally agree, Awake is awesome. I also recognize the flaws in albums such as Metropolis pt 2 and Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, but I still love them. Dream Theater relies on there albums being greater than the sum of their parts, and when they succeed in doing that, in my opinion, they’re usually good.

        • I like probably 2/3 of Six Degrees. That tour was actually my first metal concert, saw them twice on that tour. I actually like all their albums that I have, it’s just that Awake and Images are the two I revisit most often.

      • Serjien

        You are not missing much. In my humble opinion, since Portnoy left they have been soulless.

        • That’s a shame.

          • Aidan Riess

            So true, and I’m not even a huge Portnoy fan.

    • I think at some point they became a caricature of a prog-metal band. I really liked their first four albums and still go back to them, but they seemed to lose the ability to write “songs” after a while.

      • Serjien

        So you are one of the few ones who enjoyed Falling Into Infinity as well? I find that album very underrated.

        • Actually I was wrong. I like their first 5 albums. It was after Metropolis they seemed to go into drift mode.

          • “Scenes (…)” is my favourite, but right after that i’d rank “Train of Thought”, as their heaviest, thrash – influenced record. I think that really great tracks can be found in later DT records as well, i.e. “Octavarium”, “The Count of Tuscany” (despite nonsense lyrics), “This is the Life” or “The Bigger Picture”. The only one truly embarassing album is IMO the latest, and it’s funny that Petrucci&co. keep calling that their opus magnum.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I was listening to the embedded track while reading the review. The vocals don’t match the music AT ALL, to the point where I checked about three or four times to make sure there wasn’t another song playing in one of the other browser tabs.

    • Only to realize you had left Blind Seer playing on one of the other tabs.

  • HairyToeKnuckles

    Taking donations to buy the drummer a chin. Also taking a collection for the guy behind the drummer to get a real barber and get something other than the “Gump cut.”

    Also, this music is terrible.

  • Thais Munk

    I actually kinda digs the vocalist, but there’s something wrong here to my ears as well. I would like to hear her in something else than this though.

  • madhare

    She sounds totally not interested.

  • Malhorne

    The vocals are so misplaced :/

    Great review Kronos, straight to the point and really describes what’s going on there!

  • Kryopsis

    This sounds anaemic and makes me think of a bunch of sessions musicians who never previously worked together being invited to perform music someone else composed for them. There is no passion, no authenticity and no meaning in this music.

  • Serjien

    How does this even get a 2.0?!! You are too generous Kronos!

  • Dan

    cool voice, but someone should buy the band a pitch pipe and a metronome

  • drug_genosh

    score is far too generous

  • I would find this more bearable if the mixing and the distorted guitar tone wasn’t so bad.