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Walking Corpse Syndrome - "Narcissist" (CD)

Walking Corpse Syndrome - "Narcissist" CD cover image

"Narcissist" track listing:

1. Rotting Silence (3:02)
2. Madness (2:29)
3. Awakening (2:46)
4. Ugly (3:45)
5. Scales (3:39)
6. Scars And Stitches (4:15)
7. My Syndrome (3:25)
8. Wrong (5:11)
9. Crushed (2:36)
10. Path of the Righteous and the Wicked (3:37)
11. Mr. Jangles (4:58)

Reviewed by on June 11, 2010

"'Narcissist' keeps up the balance between energetic and brooding throughout its run time, using a variety of styles and sounds to earn a place in the ranks of those keeping the underground strong."

Walking Corpse Syndrome has defied the odds and stuck it to the man by continuing to thrive in the underground metal scene and self release a second album. “Narcissist” continues the band’s trek into extreme metal that is influenced by, but not even remotely constrained to, both Goth and symphonic music. “Narcissist” still shows where Walking Corpse Syndrome has room for improvement, but it’s also a clear advancement from the first album, “Forsaken” (reviewed here), that shows how much potential the band really has.

One of the most noticeable differences between the releases immediately pops up with the first bout of screams, which have undergone a significant overhaul. The heavy distortion on the vocals is gone, letting the vocal talent shine through without overpowering the other instruments. There is also much more variation on this go around. A throaty death growl delivers the bulk of the lyrics, but a large minority instead goes for a semi-clean style that is somewhere between a hardcore yell and a Gothic whisper.

The clean vocals have just a faint mewling trail at the end that might potentially turn off strict adherents to extreme metal, but the departure from the norm more than makes up for any loss of “kvlt” points. “Awakening” displays how well the Gothic styling of the clean vocals can work with screams, as the two styles bleed into each other repeatedly throughout the track in a unique way. Speaking of unique, not many bands can claim to contain two drummers in their roster. A dual drum assault makes for a prominent drum sound, along with some engaging melodies that won’t be heard anywhere else. The double drum/keyboard segment on “Madness” is one such intriguing change up from the standard metal sound.

While better than on the band’s first album, the production still isn’t quite up to the level of a high profile release. That probably won’t bother fans of underground extreme metal, but there is one place where it’s a significant issue. The violin aspect of the music is absolutely killer live and completely steals the show, but on the album its low enough in the mix to become a backing instrument instead of a major player. On the flip side of that, the keyboards play a more important role on “Narcissist.” They don’t turn the album into a symphonic metal release, but give a backing atmosphere to drive the main idea home on any given song.

“Narcissist” keeps up the balance between energetic and brooding throughout its run time, using a variety of styles and sounds to earn a place in the ranks of those keeping the underground strong. If this album is any indication, Walking Corpse Syndrome will only keep getting better from here.

Highs: Awesome dual drum assault, nice vocal variation, interesting keyboard melodies

Lows: The violin deserves a much larger place in the music, and the production hasn't quite hit perfect yet.

Bottom line: A strong underground metal release with influences from hardcore, Goth, and the symphonic end of the spectrum.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)