Called to Arms - The Last Lament
Record Label: Tragic Hero Records
Release Date: November 27, 2007
I'm beginning to have a bit of trouble writing these reviews. It's not that I don't still have a passion for it, in fact, I always get random urges to review albums that I've got something to say about. However, when it comes to the genre that I most often write on, metalcore, I've just begun to run out of interesting ways to write the reviews and I'm afraid that sometimes, my words seem to meld together and all say the same thing on every review. Whether this is the state of the genre or something else, I'm not likely to find out.
Called to Arms is another one of these metalcore bands that I'm having difficulty with. Their "EP" The Last Lament was released in 2007 and then quickly re-released by Tragic Hero Records. The EP in the preceding sentence has the air-quote intonation because this so-called EP is actually almost a full thirty minutes long, so don't expect a quick, once-over listen.
Here's where I come in with the line that, at this point, should be tattooed on my forehead in its various forms as I've used it: Although The Last Lament is nothing groundbreaking or new, it's got a certain kick to it that makes it a viable album in a genre that's become over-saturated in mediocrity. Even though I say it repeatedly, it holds true. Maybe it's that these are the only albums I choose to review, and that's why I have the same stance over and over again. However, my internal crisis isn't what's under scrutiny here.
The Last Lament is not an album that has the possibility to save the metalcore genre, but how many really do? Instead, it's an album that's going to give us metalcore fans another dose of what keeps us listening. They've got pretty much everything we can appreciate: pummeling vocals, air-tight instrumentation, and a keen ear for placement and structuring. On my first couple of listens through the album, I wasn't all that impressed. However, after giving it a little while and listening to it a few more times through, I began to enjoy it more and more.
Vocals are always a dominate force in metalcore, and this album doesn't short you on either the good or bad. While I tend to like the screamed vocals, the "growls bordering on pig-squealing" vocals tend to get a bit annoying in places (such as the first couple of minutes of "Sixth Hour" where they use a strangely familiar breakdown). The more vicious, thrashy vocals are a lot more entertaining, and in my opinion, set them apart from the number of sound-alike metalcore bands.
The instrumentation on this album is extremely tight and well-delivered. The guitarists can throw out some serious leads, and the songs are punctuated by some impressive soloing and scattered technical work. They're one of the driving forces on the album, and the structuring leaves plenty of places where they're showing off and the vocals either take the backseat or don't make an appearance. The drummer is fairly impressive where he shows up as well, although most of the time his kit is taking a backseat to the rest of the sound.
The structuring is also one of the things I've come to like about the album. None of the songs revolve around choruses, and many of the brutal-onslaughts are interrupted by various instrumental breaks. Some of these breaks take on a more ambient nature (such as the tight piano-break during "Locked and Loaded") and some of them take on a much heavier and more dramatic one, like the escalation during the last couple minutes of the title track.
I don't tend to listen to this type of overtly-heavy metalcore. However, The Last Lament seems to carry itself with just enough style to make it past my picky ears. I may have my little qualms with the album, but overall, it's a great listen. Called to Arms is going to be one of those bands to watch out for in the future, and while they may not every be the saviors that this genre is looking for, it's likely that they're not going to disappoint fans of it.