Opensight – Mondo Fiction Review

This promo was tagged ‘cinematic metal.’ Was there ever a more vague description? Movie metal. Last time I checked, movies are not a genre, movies have genres. If we’re including horror movies, about two-thirds of all metal could be included on those grounds alone, and the rest is covered by action movies and fantasy. This reflects in the diverse range of bands that label themselves, or are labeled as such by their labels,1 ‘cinematic metal.’ If there is any commonality, it is a penchant for dramatic showmanship and influences of cabaret, but even that is not guaranteed. Yet I do always find my curiosity piqued by the tag, as unpacking it is akin to opening a present or one of Forrest Gump’s proverbial chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get.

In the case of Mondo Fiction, you get… detective metal? If we’re going to conflate movie and music genres, this description is easily the most apt for Opensight’s quirky brand of metal. Additionally, using more established musical genres is a surprisingly difficult undertaking. Broadly speaking, the album mixes elements of heavy metal, progressive metal, alternative metal and smidges of the cabaretesque and surf rock. Yes, surf rock, but this makes sense; the characteristic wet twang was a popular sound for detective show themes in the 60’s, and combined with the incidental but prominent use of brass, it solidifies the association with this classic era in TV and cinema without diluting the heaviness. The ‘cinematic metal’ tag is thus well earned.

A cool, well-implemented theme is a good way to stand out, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the music is high quality. On this front, the results are more mixed. While vocals are absent, the issues are few. There’s some cracking riffs and a rousing solo or two. “The Great Silence” builds up nicely toward its explosive conclusion and the sense of spooky dramatism is conveyed with aplomb. The main riff for “Villain” is, amusingly, an almost direct copy of the theme of the 90’s Spider-man cartoon, but this is just a momentary distraction. The song runs a little long, though, as does follow-up “Secrecy.” The music is a bit too simplistic for these tracks to fill their running time wall-to-wall. It can be argued Opensight leans a bit heavily on the theme, and the pacing is a little slow at times, but otherwise Mondo Fiction is largely enjoyable from an instrumental perspective.

The vocals, on the other hand, are another story. Though they can’t be called amateur per se, they’re not that far above, either, and the reasons are myriad. The singer’s delivery is all over the place, and he seems to constantly switch between dramatic, forceful and mysterious, never settling on any one mode. Furthermore, when belting, he frequently strains to hit his notes. The last line of the album contains a particularly painful example, but others are dotted across the entirety of the running time. Whenever the vocals pop up, the instruments take a back seat in complexity and intensity, and the production shifts emphasis likewise. All this adds up to an archetypal example of a decent album with originality, class and inspiration, taken down to mediocre levels almost completely due to subpar vocals.

It’s always a shame when something like this happens. Bands with a theme often have to tread carefully so as not to become a mere gimmick, but Opensight avoids such a pitfall with grace. The band takes a very specific theme and style, but manages to weave it into metal quite well, and though it stumbles occasionally, the resulting album is interesting and promising. It would take a much better vocalist to go beyond these descriptors though, because with his strained and uneven performance in such a central position, I can’t recommend Mondo Fiction in its current state.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 160 kbps mp3
Label: Self-released
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: January 28th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. I’ll stop saying label now.
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