Blindly dipping into the promo pool presents a risk vs reward dilemma that can have sizable benefits, but is fraught with the danger of winding up with a tedious listening experience, or even worse, a complete train-wreck of an album. I dived in optimistically with the independent second release of unsung Texan trio Of the Sun, entitled Before a Human Path. While modern recording and distribution strategies create are more realistic and accessible platforms for bands to release their music with or without label backing, the extra challenge is finding a voice and standing out from the crowded pack in the modern metal field. Self-proclaiming their music as ‘southern progressive metal’ sounds interesting on paper, bringing up imaginative scenarios, such as combining a dose of burly Down-styled metal with the adventure and bombast of prog. A number of similar scenarios whipped through my brain before settling in to jam Before a Human Path to find out whether Of the Sun are yet another cookie cutter modern metal band to avoid, or the real deal.

Despite comprising only five tracks, Before a Human Path packs plenty of weight within the reasonably hefty time capsules. Decent technical chops and amped-up aggression defines the early throes of opener “The Tightrope Mile,” as it settles into a thrashy gallop complete with angry vocals and a technical edge. Oddly, the song takes quite the unexpected detour into airy post-rock clean singing and proggy atmospherics that musically errs a little far on the repetitious side of things. But wait, the surprises continue unfolding; busy drumming and knotty guitar lines give way to some bass-heavy nu-metal grooving, a pointless ambient breakdown, and scattershot mixture of all that has come before during its climax. Mish-mashing varied styles into a grinder, Of the Sun’s strange formula runs the gamut from groove metal, mathcore, post-rock, nu-metal and loosely defined progressive metal.

This all but the kitchen sink song-writing mentality is ambitious but ultimately disjointed and seriously deficient in structural composition and cohesion. Although none of the songs really come together as a whole, perhaps the worst offender is fourth track “A Soliloquy.” Beginning with an atmospheric, flatly sung passage, the song quickly descends into completely boneheaded, groove-driven nu-metal, featuring weak Corey Taylor-esque vocals and terribly juvenile lyrics (“Fuck the bullshit/I’m fuckin’ sick of it/I feel it’s time to tear this motherfucker down!”). The song goes on for far too long and when it’s not pumping out wallet chain swinging grooves and nu-metal buffoonery, some decent and oddly out-of-place technical jamming takes place, adding another ‘what the fuck?’ element to proceedings.  Elsewhere, the remaining songs are littered with similar misfires, awkward twists and questionable stylistic choices, locked within clunky song structures.”The Limbless God” sounds like a generic mix of cast-off Pantera riffs and Lamb of God aggression, full of groove metal clichés. Further damaging their cause, the songs are unable to justify their five-seven minute plus lengths.

Beyond the patchy song-writing and ill-advised stylistic elements, Of the Sun possess some impressive instrumental chops, exemplified in short snippets, such as parts of the melancholic prog and post-rock meanderings and winding guitar work on “Cantos,” and the more complex segments of “The Tightrope Mile.” Unfortunately Of the Sun lack the compositional skills to make their oddball combination work. Further compounding Before a Human Path’s fundamental flaws, is their inability to pen a memorable tune, and the compressed recording is simultaneously flat and excessively loud.

I’m certainly not opposed to weird and adventurous bands genre-bending their hearts out. However, it needs to be executed with a degree of finesse and fluency. Of the Sun fall well short of writing a cohesive record or leaving a lasting impression. In fairness, for all my misgivings about Of the Sun’s scattershot brand of modern metal, not all the music on Before a Human Path outright blows quite like “A Soliloquy.” Nor is their anything remotely well executed and developed enough to justify returning or recommending this release. Of the Sun’s questionable genre splicing and haphazard song-writing overrides the occasional redeemable quality and makes for a bizarre and frustrating experience that falls well short of the mark. Perhaps it’s time for the band to reevaluate their goals, focus on their strengths and head back to the drawing board.


Rating:1.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: ofthesunofficial.com | facebook/ofthesunband
Releases Worldwide: April 14th, 2017

 

 

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  • Reese Burns

    After this, I feel like I need a shower. Eck. But on the subject of Corey Taylor, I heard Stone Sour have a new album coming out, and though I don’t care for most of Slipknot’s work, I’ve always had a soft spot for Stone Sour.

    • Drew Music

      New Stone Sour… Now I’m the one who feels unclean. I feel like early Stone Sour was the closest Corey Taylor will ever come to being even remotely genuine, and that is certainly not saying anything particularly spectacular for them. The first album was fairly solid in my book, but I loathe Corey Taylor on a near Draiman level and have so little patience for him that I’ve long since been unable to care about anything coming out of that (the) great big mouth.
      Eck, indeed.

      • Reese Burns

        Fair enough, though the House of Gold and Bones albums are some of my favourite hard rock albums.

      • Sean Sky

        What do you dislike about Corey Taylor? I don’t know much about him. Is he a twat?

        • Reese Burns

          I find that he’s opinionated, but I never got the impression that he was a douche.

        • Drew Music

          It’s tough to pinpoint into a specific characteristic, but I just always get this shitty vibe that he values his own words too much and takes himself too seriously. I read lots and lots of ‘interviews’ with him on Blabbermouth back when I still frequented that site, and 90% of them had that reek of one who sniffs their own farts. He once said something to the effect of ‘I try not to sleep because it’s weird that people willingly fall unconscious’ way back, I wanna say in an issue of Revolver, and it’s been more and more of a chore for me to take him seriously ever since.
          Loathe was perhaps a bit harsh, but I had also just clocked out after a long night-shift when I had typed that and thusly hated everyone in that particular moment.

          • Sean Sky

            Haha I’d have to read those interviews but I can picture the type of person you’re describing. I actually don’t entirely hate Slipknot either.

          • Drew Music

            Nor do I, especially if I’m feeling all nostalgic and whatnot. I even loved Vol. 3 while the rest of the world shat itself over it, I just can’t stand Corey Taylors representation of himself.

          • Sean Sky

            Vol. 3 was a really well-made album overall.

    • Patrick Bertlein

      A band like Stone Sour but less trendy sounding is not a bad thing in my opinion. Green Carnation and Antimatter come pretty close to that.

  • Westpaceagle

    Groove, nu, prog…ouch! I am surprised they made it to 1.5 Only thing worse to mix in there would be djent; that would be the perfect storm of aural torture for my ears at least

  • Caleb

    Really like the album artwork. “Surely it can’t be that bad with such cool album art.” Yeahh… I was wrong.

    • At least, if the music bores you, you can always solve the labyrinth puzzle.

    • Patrick Bertlein

      Right!?

  • rumour_control

    Love Wheelchair Guy. But when Wheelchair Guy has been taking band photos from the Days of Doors’ Yore, Wheelchair Guy should no longer be commissioned to take moody band shots from down yonder.

  • Patrick Bertlein

    “Fuck the bullshit”

    Yes, like those horrible lyrics. Lost me the moment that crap started, too bad was really digging the cover. I think what they mean by Southern is Hellyeah.