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Review: Cold Black – Circles

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Cold Black is a metalcore/post-hardcore band from Copenhagen, Denmark. Having previously released their 5 track EP, they will now be releasing their full length album ‘Circles’ on the 18th of August. Their bio described that they would be going for a new sound to demonstrate the musical maturity they’ve developed. They’re calling it electronic-induced metalcore. Well, the melodic vocals are indeed impressive, and every song is actually quite soothing and without fault. I can imagine this new sound of theirs gaining a lot of new fans and possibly even becoming radio-friendly to mainstream music stations. However, I can also imagine this album repelling a lot of metalcore fans.

Having listened to their EP, one could have expected this album to have a lot of breakdowns, tasty guitar leads, and scream to clean singing variations. Not so. The opening and title track “Circles” gives the band a definite Asking Alexandria and Amity Affliction feel, yet it’s so much softer. There are very few proper breakdowns and a lacking in actual screams, and if there is any screaming, it’s much closer to Linkin Park than anything else. To some, this could be a wonderful thing. To others, it might feel watered-down.

Whether for or against, one cannot resist asking how this is still metalcore? It has little guitar work and is dominated by synth melodies. One could argue that this band is heading in a better direction and that this sound is phenomenal. However, from the perspective of a metalcore fan that has seen the early and late versions of bands like Parkway Drive, Bullet For My Valentine, or Asking Alexandria, there may be a fair chance of disappointment. Either way, listeners will find that nearly every song consists of a keyboard lead and a somewhat distorted soft sing-along chorus, making the vocals and synthesizer now the band’s greatest assets. Instrumentally, the greatest shining roles are the keyboard and the drums. The guitars more or less phase through with very simple chord progressions, clean picking verses, and very light breakdowns. Considering there are still two guitars, one has to wonder why there is so much under-playing.

Personally, I could fall asleep, meditate, or relax to this album and have a very pleasant passing of time. “Call of The Wild” and “Miles Miles”, are one of my favorite songs on the whole album simply because they have the catchiest keyboard melodies and riffs and some of the better breakdowns. Other songs with heavier guitar segments like “Resound” actually make me want to charge at someone and do a double-leg takedown – into a pile of pillows. These are the songs with great mosh (and maybe even dance) potential.

Unfortunately, other songs like “Throw Me To The Wolves” and “Dead End Eyes” have promising distorted rhythms, only to be let down by half-vacant verses and slow chords – kind of like waiting and waiting for a song to do something unpredictable, and then nothing. The last song “Fire Walk” is perhaps the softest, and a reminder as to how unnecessary double kicks and a second guitarist feel on this album. The reason I lumped these songs together is because other than the synth melodies, I am having great difficulty telling some of the songs apart – especially by chorus, and I’ve already listened to this album five times.

So what could have been improved? Well for a mainstream audience, nothing. For a metalcore fan base, the album could have had proper breakdowns, proper screams at the right moments, more guitar leads, and less synth leads. I don’t mean to come across as aggressive, but I must point out that we’re not really longing for keyboard melodies, for we could have all the keyboard riffs we want from mainstream music alone. Maybe this was their aim.

By now it’s clear that this is a very mixed review. I had very high hopes for them as they had a very nice EP, and I won’t deny that they have in fact matured as musicians, but if they want to continue calling themselves a metalcore band and want to continue having a metalcore audience, they are going to have to beef up – so this is entirely dependent on which target audience they are aiming for. Overall, I give this album a 6/10. It’s good, but I wouldn’t say exceptional. It’s really up to you if you choose to add this album to your metalcore collection. I suggest you watch the video clips to ‘Circles’ and ‘Throw Me to The Wolves’ – what you see is what you get.

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