the Calico Syetm – Outside Are the Vultures
Release Date: June 6th 2007
Record Label: Eulogy Recordings
The Calico System emerged on the scene in 2003 with their full-length debut, “the Duplicated Memory,” a slightly sloppy, but extremely chaotic and emotional album that was a hell of a surprise. While the band branched off more into the metalcore genre with their 2005 follow-up, “They Live,” the band still managed to take their unoriginal sound and make it a fresh and easily listenable experience. From the solid song structures, to the slight touches of superior musicianship and Mark Owens dynamic vocal range, the Calico System easily became an immense guilty pleasure of mine. So one of the albums I was eagerly anticipating in 2007 was the Calico System’s third full length, “Outside Are the Vultures.”
Once again the Calico System have found themselves changing up their sound in between albums. While the band lost their bassist, he was replaced by their original bassist. The band also saw a few more member changes recently and re-added the prefix ‘the’ back to their name. Besides those minor changes, the Calico System found themselves branching off into an even heavier sound then on their previously album, “They Live.”
While the songs on the album are still mainly top notch, the heavier songs are slightly disappointing, if only due to the vocal delivery of Mark Owens. On songs like “Lick the Sun” and “Unlocking the Mavrik” Mark Owens completely nails the clean parts, making the songs more memorable and enticing than most of the other songs. Owens singing voice was the main reason I got into the Calico System and his choice to avoid singing on most of the songs was disappointing. However, Owens still nails the screaming parts, with his voice getting even deeper and fuller, especially compared to the thin screams that filled the bands debut album.
With the songs being heavier, the band seemed to bring a more varied amount of influences to the table. While some of the songs show the bands metal roots, there is an apparent hardcore influence that wasn’t on their earlier material, while the band’s original contemporary screamo and post-hardcore roots are almost non-apparent on “Vultures”. The songs, however, still showcase some fine musicianship. From the opening riff on “Devil’s Affair” to the layered soloing on “Deceiver” and “the Rising Tide,” it’s apparent that these guys can shred when they choose to. However, the melodic interlude, “Sleepwalker” showcases a more melodic path that the Calico System could choose to branch off into if they want to tone things a down a bit on their next album.
While “Outside Are the Vultures” doesn’t hit as hard as the Calico System’s first two full-lengths and Mark Owens disappointing neglect of his singing voice, the album is still worth the time. On the surface it’s a generic metalcore album, but if you dig into it, there’s enough little things and efficient musicianship that “Outside Are the Vultures” is easily one of the better albums released this year for the genre. This is hands down the best release on Eulogy Recordings since Set Your Goal’s “Mutiny!”