Song: Rift Band:Parallel Horizons Location: Hong Kong, China Date of Release: 28/03/2015 Genre: Metalcore/Melodic Death Metal Reviewer: Welmanshire For Fans Of: Still Remains, The Black Dahlia Murder, Methadone Why They Aren’t Famous: Just that Democratic Centralism keeping the man down, man
I need to preface this review by stating that I have a love affair with Asian heavy music. It pays homage to the true roots of the genres, whether it be Punk, Hardcore and Metal, but embodies a unique sound and personality away from the confining trends that a lot of bands influenced by American heavy music face. They can often take innovation and songwriting to a new level while their western mates (that’s us) in Australia, UK, and the US sometimes struggle to cut through. I think this is mostly for Punk Rock but holds true for other genres under the heavy banner from countries like Japan and China as well. Take Japan’s FACT for example – effortlessly shifting from Punk Rock to Post-Hardcore to Metal and everything between, with an easily recognisable and individual sound.
I was excited when I stumbled across the submission from Hong Kong’s Parallel Horizons, partly because of their location, and partly because they had labelled themselves as Melodic Death Metal, of which I’m a big fan. While I was a little disappointed they didn’t seem to share the quirky innovation of other Chinese Metal, the band is essentially a solid Melodic Death Metal band with Metalcore influences, namely in the clean vocal parts and breakdowns. They’re not necessarily copying other bands, but their sound is closer to modern American Melodic Death Metal bands like The Black Dahlia Murder and As Blood Runs Black.
I feel it’s important to point out that the song they submitted ‘Rift” in my opinion was a poor choice and is definitely not an accurate representation of their talent as a band. Looking through their Facebook I spent quite some time listening to various tracks and watching videos, and I must say some of their other material is far better quality. That being said, this is the song they’ve mysteriously given to review, so review I will.
My only real issue with the song – and with the band – is the clean vocals. They are off-key, washed out, and the vocal lines are contrived and boring. The cleans in Rift are shockingly bad and feel foreign and extrinsic. In some of their other songs they’re much better – in the song ‘Illusions,’ the vocal lines are innovative and interesting with a sound reminiscent to Corelia, but still off-key. Overall there’s a lot of work to be done before they incorporate into their sound seamlessly. The screams are excellent; in the verse and bridge sections the singer shows excellent timing and pitch, and his sound reminds me a little bit of early Metalcore/Melodic Death Metal. Not too polished, and with some grit – but realistically they could cut the clean vocals out altogether.
The riffs and drum lines are sticking to the roots of the genre, with a very The Black Dahlia Murder feel, but with shades of Metalcore. The catchier riffs contained in the bridge sections are awesome, but again get a bit overshadowed by the terrible chorus. This is all a bit of a shame because if the chorus simply didn’t exist I think it would be a great song. The nature of Melodic Death Metal allows enough light and shade with the guitar and drums itself to not have to warrant clean vocals.
After the chorus and second verse, there’s an acoustic build up into a final breakdown/fade out. It felt slightly wooden and buttoned down, which gets me back to the fact they submitted this song – out of perhaps five or six that I listened to, Rift was easily the least inspiring and innovative. Parallel Horizons other material shows a lot of potential with it’s mix of Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore, and although the clean vocals still feel displaced, they at least aspire to be something more than just your average joe Metalcore chorus.
In a nutshell, Rift is an average track. The riffs are good, but very much resting on the laurels of the pioneers. It’s wet and bland vocals, unfortunately, ruin the song. I recommend checking out their other material; with a more rugged and inventive feel, it’s more in line with early Metalcore such as Still Remains. Great musicians, good band, deplorable clean vocals.