If 5Rand were looking for an easily-searchable band name, they achieved it. But what the fuck does it even mean? Is the “5” supposed to be an “S”? SRand? That doesn’t make sense. Does the “5” represent the number of band members? And are they from South Africa?1 No, no, 5Rand is a four-piece. And they’re from Italy? So, now, I’m fucking confused. And there’re no answers anywhere.2 Regardless what the band name means, I bet those who dabble in guessing a band’s genre by their name can guess this one. With simple melodeath riffs set atop typical metalcore ones, 5Rand‘s unique trait is the alternating rasps, growls, cleans by vocalist Julia Elenior. Toss in headbanging licks of Shogun-era Trivium and some rather impressive drum work, and you’ve got the band’s second full-length release, Dark Mother.
Unfortunately, one paragraph in, I’ve lost half of you. Mentioning “core” is a turn-off for damn-near 95% of the metal community. And, in the AMG offices, a metalcore assignment means you’re scrubbing Steel‘s toilet after another blackout night of White Russians and processed meat. While this cranky writer has alluded Steel‘s end of the building, he’s still subjected to this month’s low sperm count. With nothing of interest coming out in the final weeks of August, and with the newbies snorting up everything in sight, this is what it’s come to. Metalcore for Grier, metalcore for all.
After the pointless (and, thankfully, short) “Collapsing Theory,” the album begins with the moody tones of “Embrace the Fury.” Though that moodiness becomes an undertone when the riffs kick in, it separates the nasty growls and charging metalcore riffery from the beautiful cleans of the chorus. Though over the top at times, as well as being predictable one song after another, Elenior’s clean choruses are quite good. On “The Awakening,” in particular, her cleans have similar power and arrangement to Unleash the Archers. Especially with the melodeath qualities of the song and its build to the chorus. Though the approach of closer “Silent Spring” is opposite “The Awakening,” Elenoir delivers some alternating/overlaying barks and cleans that remind me of UtA-meets-Lacuna Coil.
Unfortunately, that’s where the UtA comparisons end. And while there could be other comparisons made against other female-fronted outfits, thank the lords below that 5Rand isn’t another Arch Enemy or In this Moment. Instead, 5Rand are somewhere between. With a vocal viciousness a couple of steps below Enemy and songwriting three steps above Moment, I suppose 5Rand would be in line with fellow countrymen, Lacuna Coil. But, Dark Mother is no Comalies. As can be heard from the crushing riffs and stellar drum work of “Black Ocean,” “Cold Deception,” and “Before the Flood.” With similar core-isms to “The Awakening,” Elenoir’s Crisix-like shrieks add weight to the pounding riffs of “Black Ocean.” “Cold Deception” would be like any other 5Rand song (“Several Injuries,” “Embrace the Fury,” “Old Angel Midnight”), but the drum work puts most of the core community to shame. As can be heard from the thrashy Trivium-like charge of “Before the Flood.”
In the end, Dark Mother is a continuation of their debut, Sacred/Scared. Though it contains a few surprises, Dark Mother is still rather predictable. Songs like “Black Ocean” and “The Awakening” show a decent amount of talent and, while it doesn’t go anywhere, the short, haunting “Feel the End” delivers a lot of emotion. And while “Blind Addiction” and “Cold Deception” have some badass drum work, they aren’t the most exciting pieces. The big single, “Old Angel Midnight,” whose title sounds like the name of a horse,3 is sure to please late-night MTV viewers. But, it’s so cheesy and over-the-top that the over-the-top closer sounds less dramatic than this. That said, I’m sure fans will enjoy Dark Mother. And though I actually didn’t mind it, it’s not staying with these ears.