Metalcore has become something of a punching bag genre for disgruntled metalheads and critics alike. Oversaturation of the scene and waves of bland, mediocre bands replacing violent energy and streetwise grit with generic chugs, bad vocals, and an over-reliance on clean, poppy hooks and formulaic structures has combined to derail the seemingly limited supply of worthy bands. I’ve dabbled and enjoyed the occasional metalcore band or album in the past, but overall I’ve never been overly fond of the genre and the debilitating rut metalcore as a whole appears to be stuck in. Yet, I believe in taking risks and being open minded, so I put on my mask of hope and optimism to tackle German band Third Wave and their Metamorphosis LP.
Right off the bat, it should be noted Third Wave possess a strong progressive current that assists in staving off the more generic and predictable metalcore trappings with an increased dose of technicality and structural variation. It’s hardly groundbreaking stuff, but the fusion of prog, metalcore, and djent, coupled with tight musicianship, lends the album identity and is rather well executed to a certain degree. Diversity is the key and while the album’s twists and vocal variables don’t always work particularly well, there’s potential for Third Wave to iron out these deficiencies down the track. “Algorithm” kicks the album into gear in solid fashion, an overlong yet fairly well conceived blend of spacey atmospheres, off-kilter rhythms, and progressive metalcore fusion. The jazzy, djent turns and solid vocals setting a promising scene.
Weaving a more thrashy and aggressive route pays dividends on “Catharsis,” utilizing the common Gothenburg traits prevalent in the genre. It also largely avoids overstaying its welcome like a number of its counterparts, while still packing plenty of variety, melody, and punch. When Third Wave ramp-up the aggression and compact their songwriting into tighter balls of fury and dynamism, there are some diamonds dully shimmering in the rough, like the infectiously catchy “Awakening.” The compact, slightly oddball and uneven bluster of “Eclipse,” brings increased intensity and an extreme metal edge that Third Wave may be wise to exploit further amidst the song’s weirdly placed jazzy noodling. Such solid cuts are tempered by the less appealing songs that weigh down the positive aspects of the album, where the meandering “Fill in the Blank” and largely forgettable one-two early album punch of “Inheritance” and “Ruin” go nowhere fast or particularly interesting. A handful of unremarkable songs should have been trimmed or left out altogether.
Despite the songwriting issues and inconsistencies, it’s difficult to fault the skill and energy of the respective musicians. These dudes know how to play and the lively drumming and occasionally inspiring and fluid guitar work impresses on a technical level. Meanwhile the multi-faceted vocals are generally a cut above typical metalcore fare, with an imperfect mix of harsh and cleaner styles. The most effective of these are the rougher melodic cleans that are quite well utilized. At a hefty 55 minutes, Metamorphosis doesn’t have the fuel to get Third Wave to the finish line, with a number of songs bloated and overcooked, blunting their impact. Some of the cheesier melodies, weaker vocal variations, and more generic aspects detract from the solid and occasionally impressive elements that Third Wave muster. Meanwhile, the polished production and crushed master is a touch too glossy with it’s shiny, spick and span sonic imprint.
Metamorphosis is not entirely my cup of tea, yet remains a competent, sporadically interesting and flawed album that displays promising qualities from a band with the potential to grow and develop their sound into something more compelling on future releases. Open-minded metalcore fans with a fondness for prog should find some substance here. Unfortunately, the cons outweigh the pros to garner my full endorsement.