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Thursday, July 26, 2012

REVIEW: A Wanted Awakening - Catharsis [2012]


Artist: A Wanted Awakening
Album: Catharsis
Rating: 9.25/10

According to Merriam-Webster, Catharsis is defined as a “cleansing or release of repressed emotions,” or perhaps the simpler “purgation.” As it so turns out, both of these definitions function with equal efficacy for Lowell, Massachusetts based A Wanted Awakening, and their latest release, Catharsis. Blending several progressive, metallic elements with hard-hitting deathcore and soothing, melodic interludes to create a maelstrom of passion and brutality, Catharsis not only shows a powerful release of emotion by a talented band, but a purging display of crushing brutality which cleanses the scene of impostors and nameless, faceless, sound-a-like pseudo-progressive acts.

The key to A Wanted Awakening’s latest full length is the effective, multi-faceted dialectic nature in which the band establishes their dynamic. Catharsis is capable of attacking the listener with skin-melting blast beats one second, bone-splintering breakdowns a moment after, while splitting the two up with a brief, albeit requisite melodic, classically-influenced interlude. This complex dynamic allows each instrument to shine in its own limelight, showing off where it should and blending with the background when it needs to. The guitars, while almost constantly showing off with proggy, shredding riffs reminiscent of As Blood Runs Black’s Allegiance, are also capable of nosediving from their soaring technical heights into muddy, chuggy breakdowns and grooves. The drums employ a similar tactic, using constant blast beats and quick double bass drumming to establish a norm-the same norm shattered not seconds later by supersonic fills and tasteful tempo changes.

Vocally is where A Wanted Awakening shine brightest, however, as their diverse vocal stylings make Catharsis a truly stand out and progressive release. With rasping, stellar inhaled vocals and mountain-shaking, rumbling lows alongside clean, classic metalcore singing, there is a little something for everyone. Where some of the vocal styles seem plucked right out of a The Black Dahlia Murder song, many of the cleans wouldn’t sound out of place on a Dance Gavin Dance record. Between the shrieking highs and Jonny Craig-style crooning, the vocal diversity on this album is absolutely enormous. Often times, when even the most advanced shredding borders on monotonous, the vocals soar in to save the day, scooping the track–and the album–from the clutches of a monotony-fueled trainwreck that so many similarly-styled bands have fallen victim to.

Unfortunately, the incredible span of vocals used throughout the album is also A Wanted Awakening’s sole pitfall. While, yes, there are some truly impressive, vocally-fueled moments on Catharsis–like “Pilgrimage” or the epic “Final Ascent: Exodus”–there are also moments where the vocals fall flat. Furthermore, the insistent diversity of the singing and screaming throughout the record means that when A Wanted Awakening find moments which piece together perfectly, they don’t always follow through. “Pilgrimage” displays this best, where almost every melodic section is perfectly accompanied with stellar singing, and every grimy breakdown has a guttural vocal counterpart–not to mention the tracks climactic breakdown. The sad truth is that because of the nearly-forced diversity of the album, some of these superb moments lack the impact they would have otherwise had. However, this detractor is incredulous and tiny at most, given that if it weren’t for the band’s diverse nature, Catharsis would likely fall flat as a whole in the first place, rather than just have small flat spots.

So if you like your deathcore with a blackened, melodic twist, or if you like your progressive metal with skull-crushing breakdowns, or any such variation, A Wanted Awakening have a release for you. Fueled by powerful, talented instrumentation and diverse, incredible vocals, Catharsis is an epic release which takes the listener on a guided tour through the annals of heavy music, providing something for the metalhead, mosher, or musical enthusiast in all of us.
By: Connor Welsh/Eccentricism

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