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Among the Infected - "Self-Imposed Exile" (CD/EP)

Among the Infected - "Self-Imposed Exile" CD/EP cover image

"Self-Imposed Exile" track listing:

1. Two Faced
2. Forbid The Lonesome Breath
3. Nothing Left to Know
4. Your Time Will Come
5. Contemplate, Act then Cleanse

Reviewed by on June 21, 2009

"I cannot recommend this disc enough. It's a superb mix of the brutal and the beautiful on both the vocal and instrumental sides of the equation. "

You'll have to forgive me a bit if this review devolves into a flood of superlatives, but Among the Infected's "Self-Imposed Exile" is just that good.

The furious "Two Faced" gets things going fast with a brutal riff by guitarist Lee Wanner that features enough squealing harmonics for an entire Zakk Wylde song in just the first few seconds. Wanner's playing on this disc is uniformly excellent, but this was the perfect way to begin this disc. Then, singer Paula Stefanini brings beauty amidst the brutality, with vocals that reminded me quite a bit of Garbage's Shirley Manson. But, just when we think this is going to be an album with nothing but melodic vocals, Stefanini lets loose with a series of screams that will delight Arch Enemy fans everywhere.

The next track, "Forbid The Lonesome Breath," shows off the band's slightly softer side in the beginning, with clean guitars and soft bass, before hardening things up a bit and settling into a herky-jerky riff that's a lot of fun. Stefanini's vocals aren't as great on this one, with a kind of talk-singing dominating early on, but the beautiful chorus has a nice ethereal quality. The last minute or so brings us some death screams, which is fun, considering that it whipsaws back into the soaring chorus.

"Nothing Left to Know" features Stefanini going back and forth between screams and melody, often within the same phrase, to really great effect - so great, in fact, that I wonder how the song comes off live. Wanner's guitars on this one are nice and sludgy, up to a speedier break that's reminiscent of Pantera (which is no surprise, since the band cites Dimebag and the boys as one of its influences).

"Your Time Will Come" is probably the best showcase for Stefanini's voice, as it soars above a wall of guitars, bass and drums. Bassist Dane Markanson and drummer Dan Hegarty do especially well on this one, which features some stop-and-go guitar work that demands extra attention by the rhythm section.

"Contemplate, Act then Cleanse" completes the disc in splendid style, combining the various styles and techniques we've heard in the first four songs in intriguing ways.

The one tiny complaint I have about this disc (other than the fact that it doesn't have, say, seven more songs on it) is that occasionally, especially on "Forbid The Lonesome Breath," the instrumentation comes within a hair's breadth of overcoming Stefanini's vocals. Still, it's not too common.

I cannot recommend this disc enough. It's a superb mix of the brutal and the beautiful on both the vocal and instrumental sides of the equation. "Self-Imposed Exile" is hopefully the disc that will bring Among the Infected to the masses.

Highs: The brutal guitar riff that opens "Two Faced," and Stefanini's vocals throughout the disc.

Lows: Only a couple moments where the band comes close to overwhelming the vocals.

Bottom line: A superb EP that shows off more talent and style in five songs than most bands do in a whole album.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 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)