Flaw – United We Stand

With their acclaimed last album, Divided We Fall, still raising high praise and attention, US rockers Flaw release a companion piece in the shape of new EP United We Stand. Offering four new tracks and a pair of live cuts of songs first appearing on the highly successful 2001 debut album Through The Eyes, the EP is a prime slice of Flaw’s melodically rich and enticingly muscular rock ‘n’ roll.

Released through Pavement Entertainment, United We Stand is a fiery often irritable fusion of nu and melodic metal with hard rock driven by similarly fired emotion and intensity. As soon as opener I’ll Carry You envelops ears it is easy to see why the release is described as a companion and continuation of Divided We Fall though it soon shows it has plenty of its own character and imagination to be a fresh and potent step on. The first track coaxes ears with a suggestive melody, Jason Daunt’s guitar a swiftly captivating lure soon joined by the potent and distinctive tones of vocalist Chris Volz as bold rhythms stir. As in turn sonic flames escape that melodic enticement a similar urge hits the throat of Volz, his initial smoulder becoming an emotive roar before the crescendo of sound settles once again. The magnetic cycle repeats with increasing appeal, the track a crackling fire of sound and heart further stoked by the enterprising swings of drummer Dan Johnson and Tommy Gibbons’ brooding bass.

It is a striking song quickly backed up by the darker air of Fall Into This. Bass stirs the senses with melancholic prowess initially before the wiry heat of the guitar cradles the melodic expression of Volz. It is a captivating mix of dark and light, emotional and aural shadows colluding with again fire bred textures as the song croons with infectious dexterity. At times imposingly heavy and frequently seductively inviting, it is a fascinating incitement before My Style uncages its volatile adventure, submerging ears in a Staind meets One Minute Silence like drama. It too has tempestuousness to its heart which infests the sounds shaping its proposal and it too leaves ears and appetite thickly satisfied.

The live tracks are Only The Strong and Payback; two rousing encounters showing why Flaw is such a powerful and skilful draw on stage which leaves Such Is Life to bring United We Stand to its conclusion. There is a raw edge and air to the whole of the EP but is especially vocal in the final track, feeling like it was recorded live in one take to pull the listener right onto a face to face union. With each passing second it becomes more ferocious and turbulent but without losing its melodic craft as the EP come to a fine close.

In some ways there are no new surprises within United We Stand, the release Flaw as you know and fans embrace them, but rarely do you feel like old waters are being stirred only fresh pleasure.

United We Stand is out now digitally and physically via Pavement Entertainment.

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Pete RingMaster 05/09/2017

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Elisium: Becoming

This is possibly the first time you will have heard of US metalers Elisium but it certainly will not be the last as their new impressive EP Becoming begins to consume and excite the globe. Approaching their tenth year the trio from Fredericksburg, Virginia is another example of those secrets that metal and music in general always seems to hide from us for far too long. Now though with their new release things should change the EP that impressive and a statement of the quality and power of what is still to the world an emerging band.

      Becoming follows up debut album Things They Carried of 2004 and that in itself is a crime, the fact that circumstances and life in this great musical world has meant such a long wait for a successor to what was a strongly received album. Over the years the trio of brothers Nate and Kirb Compton, vocalist/guitarist and bassist respectively, and drummer Nathan “Junior” Thomas (who joined in 2009), have shared and impressed stages with the likes of Chevelle, Flaw, Days of the New, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Straight Line Stitch, and Nonpoint, as well as headlining their own successful tours throughout the US. They have been frequently compared to bands like Tool and Chevelle and it is easy to see why but Elisium on the evidence of the EP have their own distinct breath and energy which certainly sets them apart from others.

The first notable thing is how much power and sound the threesome brews up in their songs, yes on recordings it is easy to add levels and textures to build a storm of noise but the songs here are organic in their presence with a mighty core which cannot be contrived. With reliable sources saying live they are just the same it really is a formidable strength the band has. The other impressive thing is the variety the band offer within their distinct overall sound, each song unique in composition and passion to their siblings whilst easily recognisable as kin to each other.

The EP opens with an excellent intro which to be honest does not seem to have any relation to what follows but its metallic pulse and rippling industrial intensity is hypnotic and it would be great to see it turned into an actual track. First full track is Bombshells and an immediate treat for the ears and heart to be absorbed by, especially the vocals of Nate which are striking against the rasping heavy riffs and controlled rhythms. He has a smooth delivery which comes with a snarl and fully emotive edge to light up the songs within the dark coarse melodic play and prowling intimidating basslines. The song does not offer any extravagant thrills or glossy shimmers but simply strikes with an honest and blistering strength and complete with a great vocal harmony the track is an excellent starter.

The following Sleep Awhile is equally predatory though with a less insistent energy. The song is a real grower evolving with initial thoughts at yeah this is good into an intrusive and persistent pleasure. Actually with a slight contradiction the pair of songs are certainly outstanding but as the release unveils its journey they are subsequently put in their place by the closing duo of tracks which we will come to shortly.

In between the two pairs there is a surprise in the shape of a cover of Men At Work song Safety Dance. Now the song is already one which is annoying but frustratingly infectious, a track which it is hard to find many admitting to liking but all know and join in with. Elisium do a Wolverine like corruption on it and fill its veins with their type of metal to give it muscle and a darker energy to obliterate its previous camp gaiety. It is still annoyingly as a song but even more infectious and great fun in the hands of the band.

The track whether intentionally is like an interlude between the previous songs and the amazing following AVG and Surface. The first of the two initially roughs up the ear with restrained riffs before slamming hard with a heavy energy and an incendiary groove. The song is unrelenting in its bristling attitude and almost combative assault whilst retaining a mesmeric melodic grace in atmosphere and further outstanding vocals. Every note is dripping emotion but also intimidation and it is a glorious mix. The closing Surface is another fully impactful creature emotionally with a mournful beginning erupting into a fiery mix of bullying riffs and outpouring vocals. It is a beautiful track in its composing and realisation, a fully engaging and emotionally draining song.

 Becoming is deeply impressive and surely the doorway to much full acclaim for Elisium as well as mass recognition. If they carry on creating music like this it will be a given.


RingMaster 14/06/2012

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