It’s only in the last stage of preparing my reviews that I investigate the social media and marketing bullshit vomited by a band going under the pen. My musical opinion is already formed but I may need some basic information to reference in the introduction. What I love most is when certain terms arise: “innovative/unique” (a quality so few can truly espouse); “hotly anticipated” (by their mums and no one else); but most of all, characterizing themselves as “modern metal.” This hallowed descriptor demarcates a band either attempting to distance themselves from the entirety of “metalcore” or who mistakenly believe that their “metalcore” is different to other “metalcore.” It’s an uphill struggle to shake my opinion on the matter and Finland’s As I May have done nothing here to dispel it. My Own Creation (Creation) represents their sophomore1 album and one which falls quite neatly into metalcore scene as it currently stands.
Creation is exactly what you would expect of modern metalcore. It features chugging riffs, overbearing keyboard melodies, heavy/clean vocals and a verse-chorus structure which limits all but one track to fewer than four minutes in duration. It’s hardly revolutionizing music, metal, or even metalcore. Despite this, it makes for easy listening; the electronic elements are far from offensive, as they can be in such music, and a range of vocals are deployed effectively. The album single called “Pride Goes Before the Fall” runs the vocal gamut, featuring a pleasingly deathly roar, decent cleans and a middle ground that walks the line between a sneer and a shout. There’re sufficient power and pathos to infuse the track with real energy.
In fact, I would even posit that Creation exceeds simple pleasantries and acceptableness with such tracks as this one. A few of these songs have great hooks if you can penetrate the modern aesthetic. The single is a highlight, alongside “What a Waste of Life” and “Necessary Evil.” The former has a lovely, clean bridge and a memorable group refrains to buttress its otherwise generic “whooaaahhhh” lyrics. Similarly, the latter boasts a cheesy but hard-forgotten chorus (“Open your eyes. Look to the dark, see the stars in the sky. Shining bright far away…”). I have to add that not all tracks hit the mark, as the likes of “Cure Is Worse than Disease” and “Loud” are relatively bland, resulting in a record which is definitely front-loaded. Nonetheless, while Creation is not innovative, it does have some song-writing quality.
My principle musical criticism sits with the relative dearth of strong riffs. You’ll have noted that the highlight moments above are oriented around the vocals and not guitar parts. Though the verse riff in “Necessary Evil” is quite nifty and the mid-track heavy passage on “Quiet Place” gets my head moving, these couple of exceptions prove the rule that there is an absence of nuance otherwise. The guitars offer rhythms to underpin the keyboard and vocal melodies but these chugs can’t be said to be compelling themselves. The other complaint is in the production: Creation uses that horrible, boxy, inorganic sound typical of its genre and I still hate it. It lacks all subtlety and really affects how much I enjoy the record, especially when switching to it off the back of something with superior production. It’s a displeasing smush and discerning individual instrumentation outside of the big synth melodies is a task in itself.
Call a spade a spade. Creation is far from unique and stylistically fits comfortably into the modern metalcore scene. But I don’t consequently consign it to the scrap heap as some might; perseverance through the miserable production yields some catchy -core tunes. Not all are created equal but the shining lights suggest a brighter future ahead. The good news is that the production is remediable. The real question lies next to the blander tracks: can As I May write an entire album of quality? We shall see.
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps MP3
Label: Rockshots Records
Releases worldwide: July 26th, 2019