The Beneath - City Of Light
Release Date: Spring 2009
Record Label: Unsigned
Cincinatti isn't too well known for it's music scene (trust me, I happen to live here). While we do have a few bands from the area that have risen to a level of fame (or sometimes infamy) such as Corpus Christi and Foxy Shazam, the level of independent music, especially in the heavier genres, normally seems devoid of nearly as much potential as you see in other areas, and of course, that fact just continues the cycle. Amid these bands that tend to gravitate more towards hobbies than any hope of a serious profession, there are a few bands throughout the Cincinnati scene that deserve every accolade they receive, and the premiere example of this comes from the heavy-metal-ers The Beneath, straight out of The Queen City.
Praised as "Cincinnati's best musicians" at this years Icthus festival by Corpus Christi's lead guitarist Jarrod Christman, The Beneath don't fail to disappoint. The unfathomably technical riffing and solos by the guitar duo are wholly impressive and put most of their contemporaries to shame. Their drummer is no exception when examining the talent of the members, and he's known to play with his kit sideways to, in his own words, "inspire people." When put together, these three musicians, along with the backup vocalist's often vivacious keyboard, make for an album that moves at a quick pace, navigating through quick guitar work and shattering breakdowns. The vocalists prove their aptitude time and time again as well, with the frontman's scathing growls and melodic vocals playing off of the backup vocalist's soaring singing excellently. The back-and-forth vocal devices are played off extremely well, and you never hear a tiresome vocal approach (or a tiresome anything, for that matter) throughout the course of City Of Light. Their styling seems to bounce between a few different comparisons; there are times when the soaring vocals and technical riffing draws inescapably towards bands like Protest the Hero, while at other times you can feel a definite classical metal influence playing a large part in their composition. Really, it's hard to even pin down a single track for comparison because they bounce through so many different styles and sounds within each song.
The only real qualm I have with City Of Light is the production. Of course, a band of this caliber (unsigned, and really, still making a name for themselves), can't be expected to recruit an expert producer for their debut album (though, yes, there was an earlier EP). My qualm with the production is just that the album seems to play as one hunk of sound, and it doesn't really differentiate the individual instruments and vocalists from one another enough. This is especially true in the case of the drums, to which you have to pay very close attention to in order to really notice the extreme technicality and talent throughout some parts of the songs.
The Beneath's technical precision is only matched by their unfailing ability to put on one of the most vivacious and engaging live shows of any heavy band I've ever seen. That fact brings me to my final point; though City Of Light is an excellent album from this up-and-coming band, it falls far short of capturing the full potential of the band, which can be witnessed in their live show. Despite this, City Of Light is an engaging second release from the band, and it shouldn't be discounted based solely on the slight production faults. If you ever have the chance to check out this band live, it comes highly recommended; not only by me I'm sure, but by a flattering amount of both fans and bands that have played with them. Until then, however, you should make a run over to CD Baby and order yourself a copy of City Of Light (and I'd go with the physical copy, because that artwork is simply stunning).