Monday, November 21, 2011

The Approach & the Execution: The Blood March (2011)


I was contacted by the bassist of Cleveland "epic metal" band The Approach & the Execution with a copy of their self-released debut, The Blood March. A sizable concept album about a medieval philosopher whose beliefs are unpopular, featuring a full band (including keyboardist) and three vocalists (including a female) using a variety of vocal styles, this was certainly an ambitious first attempt.

To be quite honest, I've been putting off this review for some time. It is impressive in many ways, and there are parts of it I like. But in the end it's not my kind of thing. Maybe it's yours.

When he introduced the band to me, he listed Iron Maiden, Amon Amarth, Children Of Bodom, Unearth, Protest the Hero, and Dragonforce as influences. If you're keeping score, that's two unfuckwithable bands, one hit-and-miss band, one kind of dull band, and two prog bands that I couldn't possibly care less about. As far as the good influences go, you can hear the Maiden in some places ("Earth's Final Solstice" has some cool leads), but I honestly don't hear any Amon Amarth in this. I don't hear much CoB either.

Mostly, this is progressive metalcore. Younger folks might argue with that, saying there aren't breakdowns all over the place, but the music still has "metalcore" written all over it. And while strictly speaking it's not a rock opera, the progressive concept album approach with at least five distinct vocal styles makes it sound a lot like one. Rock opera is most definitely not my thing. The vocals are, sadly, through-and-through metalcore, including the female vocals and occasional growls, but thankfully not on the whinier end of that spectrum. It's no help that some of the repeated sentiments are kind of corny ("there is no destiny but the one you make").

To be fair, there are some good things about it. There are some good riffs here. Considering the genre, the production is surprisingly not overpolished, and the keyboards aren't overpowering. As far as I can tell, the concept is well-executed, and for the most part the compositions don't drag out (for the most part). In the end, I'd be surprised if MetalSucks readers didn't love this album. I'm only 29, but I think I'm just too old to get it.

(Note: You have to get to about 2:30 before the music starts.)

The Verdict: Despite a pretty cool album cover, The Blood March is not my cup of, uh, blood. I give it 2 out of 5 stars. They ought to shop this to the MetalSucks writers, if they haven't already, because it's right up their alley.

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