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A Wanted Awakening - "Catharsis" (CD)

A Wanted Awakening - "Catharsis" CD cover image

"Catharsis" track listing:

1. Final Ascent Exile
2. Misanthrope
3. Dehumanize
4. The Massacre To Come
5. Flameborn
6. Tempest
7. The Perseus Veil
8. Pilgrimage
9. Spiders
10. Final Ascent Exodus

Reviewed by on June 23, 2012

"'Catharsis' overflows with ideas, which may be as much a curse as a gift, for it's not likely to please different types of fans equally."

Few can doubt A Wanted Awakening’s technical ability, dedication to craft, and determination to have everything “just so.” Any debut album five years in the making wears such tireless work on its sleeve. The future, however, is trickier to predict, and in this case will depend on the outcome of the intense musical conflict that defines “Catharsis.” Will the band participate in a creative revitalization of the deathcore movement, sink into that genre’s entrenched morass of clichés, or shed its constraints altogether? It’s difficult to tell.

Put simply, “Catharsis” is a mix of deathcore and progressive metal with a keen sense of melody. Most tracks balance these elements evenly, a diversity that elevates certain songs and bogs others down. The weakest link is that all-too-familiar deathcore staple: the slowed, chugging breakdown, which makes a particularly gratuitous appearance on “The Massacre To Come.” Far lesser bands have adopted this trope as a lazy way to be heavy, and it seems beneath A Wanted Awakening’s caliber, considering what else this disc has to offer.

The band fares much better in the progressive, or “prog-core” realm. Undulating grooves drive songs like “Misanthrope,” “Dehumanize,” and “The Perseus Veil,” while staccato-spitting riffs intertwine with a shower of fluid lead work. The dreamlike, Yes-reminiscent introductions to “Misanthrope” and “Spiders,” and the moving acoustic passage buried within “Final Ascent Exodus,” signal ambitions that far exceed mere walls of death and broken noses. While frontman Rick Hardy and bassist Jason York trade the genre’s requisite growls and screeches, guitarist John Tree chimes in with stellar clean vocals that rarely appear in the places you’d guess. And for all the schizophrenic melding elsewhere, “Flameborn” rips into full-on thrashy melodic death gear, with an unrelenting rhythmic backbone, headbanging tempo, and traditional soloing.

“Catharsis” overflows with ideas, which may be as much a curse as a gift, for it’s not likely to please different types of fans equally. There’s more than enough chug and syncopated mayhem to keep unabashed deathcore fans happy; prog aficionados would do well to check out the creative, intricate compositions; and even traditional thrash and death metalheads could use a listen. The question is, who will “win?”

Highs: "Flameborn," "Misanthrope"

Lows: "The Massacre To Come"

Bottom line: An above-average, melodic blend of deathcore and progressive metal with an as-yet unclear target audience.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)