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Thomas Giles - "Pulse" (CD)

Thomas Giles - "Pulse" CD cover image

"Pulse" track listing:

1. Sleep Shake
2. Reverb Island
3. Mr.Bird
4. Catch & Release
5. Hamilton Anxiety Scale
6. Scared
7. Reject Falicon
8. Medic
9. Suspend the Death Watch
10. Armchair Travel
11. Hypoxia

Reviewed by on December 30, 2010

"With 'Pulse' Thomas Giles has outdone himself once again and has created a beautiful album that stands as a counterpoint to his work with Between the Buried and Me."

While Between the Buried and Me has gone in a more progressive and experimental direction with its past two releases (2007's "Colors" and 2009's "The Great Misdirect"), the band is still primarily known for its abrasive blend of death metal, technical metal, and hardcore. The band's front man, vocalist, and keyboardist Tommy Rogers looks to further explore his progressive mind-set with his second solo record "Pulse." Performing here under his birth name Thomas Giles; the talented multi-instrumentalist expands his craft, indulging in eclectic styles of music that will either please fans of his previous work or send them into a complete rage.

While his first solo album, "Giles," went ultimately unnoticed Rogers aims to reach a wider audience by releasing his sophomore album on Metal Blade Records. But don't be fooled by the choice of record label or his work with Between the Buried and Me. "Pulse" is an album that is nearly devoid of any metal influence. The songs presented here are quite tranquil, soft and at times - dare I say it - "poppy." It needs to be pointed out that the songs on "Pulse," for the most part, are deeply rooted in a prog-pop background and those opposed to more accessible forms of music should not bother with this record, as there is nothing anti-culture about it. "Reverb Island" and "Mr.Bird" are both prime examples of this and are also exceptional songs that offer up a completely different side to the often screaming front-man. Simple acoustic guitars, soft piano passages, and mellotron patches all come together beautifully as Giles provides some haunting vocal work. Yes, it is progressive pop and it is damn good pop too, with a genius quality to the songwriting.

The album's high point comes in the form of the short, two and a half minute radio friendly track, "Scared." It is without a doubt that the majority of metal listeners will cringe at the blatant pop orientation of "Scared," but it is Giles' willingness to explore his musical horizons that makes this song so special. "Scared" is a beautiful song that deals with the topic of death and it really does hit deep. The music itself is a combination of Jack Johnson's simple acoustic guitar style combined with the vocal melodies of Coldplay. It comes as a shock at first, hearing such a song from someone that's usually screaming, grunting, and bellowing out his vocals but "Scared" is an absolute pleasure to listen to and even could have been a minute or two longer.

One thing that is exceptionally odd about "Pulse" is the inclusion of the track "Medic." While the other ten tracks on the album are either soft, ballad-esque songs or dance worthy electronic compositions ("Catch & Release"), "Medic" is a true metal track. The guitars are down-tuned, thick, and heavy. Although being metal, it sounds nothing like Between the Buried and Me and has more of a Strapping Young Lad feel to it and to be honest, it just doesn't fit on "Pulse" at all. "Medic" is an awkward metal track and is far from adventurous, putting a temporary halt to the smooth and trance-inducing flow of the album. Luckily "Medic" is one of the shorter cuts on the disc and it passes by quickly.

With "Pulse" Thomas Giles has outdone himself once again and has created a beautiful album that stands as a counterpoint to his work with Between the Buried and Me. The songs are arranged in such a way that allow for the album to move like a story. With the exception of "Medic" and a few sparse moments in other tracks, "Pulse" is a mellow album that stands firm in a pop aesthetic while utilizing melody to create its emotional peaks and valleys. The songs on "Pulse" each offer something new than what BTBAM fans are used to, and in turn is an album that will become a pillar in the progressive pop and rock genres.

Highs: Simple, beautiful, and captivating songwriting with tracks that grow on the listener.

Lows: The heavier "Medic" feels very out of place on such a mellow and laid back album.

Bottom line: This prog-pop solo release from a death metal vocalist is an amazing album for open-minded individuals only.

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)