A release does not always have to totally blow you away to make a compelling and perpetually appetising proposition, but it needs something at its core and invention which through any uncertainties and ‘issues’ acts like an alluring beacon. That is exactly what Transitions, the debut album from US metalcore band Under Paris has. There are elements which do not whip up the imagination and passions as pungently as others within it but consistently the release has ears and imagination seriously engaged, and though it might not take metalcore into something approaching new pastures the Iowa quintet’s ferocious incitement definitely has plenty about it to stir up serious attention.
Clinton hailing Under Paris began in 2012 and swiftly went to work enticing appetites with their first single If the Drugs Don’t Work, Can You Drive Me Home?, a track featuring Rene Lopez of Scarlett O’Hara. An acoustic EP called Clean Lungs and shows with the likes of Beartooth and The Ghost Inside only enhanced their emergence before the beginning of 2014 saw the release of debut full band EP Our Stories, recorded with Derek Moffat of 608 Studios. The encounter and the two singles unveiled from it before hand in the shapes of You’re Going Nowhere and Hold On Pain Ends sparked yet another influx of attention and interest. From there and later that year Under Paris ventured into the studio to record Transitions, releasing its first single Midwest Winters as a flavoursome teaser soon after. It lured in another dose of keen interest, which the band having signed with Imminence Records this past February, hope to exploit with the worldwide release of their new album.
Release and band prey on the senses immediately through opener Shallow Graves as irritant riffs and venomous vocal growls collude with vicious beats and bestial bass tone from the off. It is an imposing and gripping start which relaxes a touch as melodic toxicity and rampant rhythms erupt and smother ears in familiar yet fresh metalcore hostility. The guitars of Jayden Serrano and Evan Morrow spin a web of sonic enterprise within their barbarous riffery, enticing and holding the imagination whilst rhythms and vocals create a hellacious trespass of the senses. It is a strong and consuming beginning to the album but a nagging doubt arises in thoughts during it too. The excellent caustic vocals of Michael “Thorr” Alexander unleash an impressive and enjoyable ferocious fury yet with a singularly inhospitable delivery which admittedly personal tastes wondered if they might fail to provide the diversity the album potentially would need. Hopes that there will be something to temper and contrast his imposing are swiftly realised by Under Paris with At War with Myself. Once again Alexander and the vicious side of the sound is a merciless single minded tempest but in no time finds itself bound in a spicy enterprise of guitar aligned to the excellent clean vocals of bassist Rylie Phillips. He has a warmth and catchiness in his tones which works perfectly with the expressive brutality of Alexander, the song musically matching their ferocious and melodic union in creative kind. The sinew swung beats of drummer Lucas Richards create a rugged yet understanding companion to both sides too as the band merges light and dark impressively, calm and violent textures bonding with captivating ease.
The album’s title track crawls with the senses next, Transitions an instant wall of bruising provocation but also soon veined by the magnetic voice of Phillips. The track grows into an ever twisting tempestuous exploit of emotion and sound, the guitars managing to flirt and scar ears with their invention whilst rhythmically the encounter reveals sheer brutal rapacity. Its hellacious but enthralling presence is matched by What’s the Big Deal About Alaska though the song lacks the incendiary spark of its predecessors. It does come dramatically alive though around midway when the band slips into an evocative and thoughtful passage of relative peace and intrigue away from the fierce bluster, though that subsequently returns in a bellow of greater infectiousness.
The very swift rage of Yoloswag#420 provides an inescapable contagion next, the viciousness coming with a virulent swing before descending into a corrosive bedlam of spite. Its brief assault is followed by the heavily engaging Midwest Winters. The song’s landscape is a turbulent terrain of heavily delivered rolling rhythms and sonic acidity, again under a murderous atmosphere cast by riffs, predatory basslines, and vocal fury. Across it though, fiery melodies and the clean tempting of Phillips, provide the light in the dark, for a union of extremes which need each other to work and in turn flourish impressively together.
Both Devil’s Trap and Too Far Gone hold ears and attention tightly, the first a web of jagged riffs, bass imagination, and tremendous crippling beats from Richards. As in all tracks unpredictability is given plenty of exposure but often elsewhere comes shadowed by the storm around and above it. Here though it is allowed the strongest clarity enhancing the drama and appeal of the experience. Its successor is simply a torrential ravaging of malevolence and emotive rancor aligned to a fascinating weave of sparkling melodies and harmonies, each an imposing magnificence whether presented alone or entwined.
A tantalising warm reprise of At War with Myself leads the listener into the explosively fearsome and seductive throes of closing track At Peace. Featuring The Color Morale vocalist Garret Rapp, the song brings all the impressive and flavoursome aspects of the album into one bewitching intrusive roar; contrasts and rigorous extremes embroiled in one emotionally fierce and sonically intensive fire. The best track on the album it ensures Under Paris end their confrontation with a gripping and lingering incitement.
Transitions is a thoroughly satisfying proposition. It does not always go as far in its imagination and boldness as it should and would be liked, meaning at times it fails to meet its potential but certainly the release shows Under Paris to be a band which should be locked into the radar and their album a regular proposal to embrace.
Transitions is available now via Imminence Records at most online stores and physically @ http://www.underparis.bigcartel.com
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