Review by Mike Paradine
Title : EARSPLIT
Label: Self Release
“Earsplit” track listing:
1. Biohazardous Disease
2. Degenerate Warlocks
4. The Crossroad
5. Free Your Soul
6. Love Don’t Matter (Feat. Kathryn Bibby)
7. Dungeons N’ Dragons
Unfortunately, when you hear the words heavy metal and the Middle
East, the first thing that comes to mind are the violent past and current conflicts that have occurred, or are occurring at the moment, in that portion of the world. However a new meaning is taking place and, hopefully, will change ones thoughts when approached with these terms. Over the past few years, metal bands in that region have been sprouting up, taking chances and showing the rest of the planet that they too have something to say in the realm of metal. We’re here to review one of those bands called EARSPLIT from Kuwait.
The band originally formed in 1999, and decided to break up after co-founder Ken departed from the endeavor in 2003. Once a spark is ignited however, it is hard to put out and Ken reformed the band in 2005 with new vigor. With restrictions on music, the band still managed to record, produce and release independently, their self titled album “EARSPLIT”.
“Biohazardous Disease” starts this 7 song offering off with good promises. We are immediately hit with a fast driven tempo with riffs and sound lifted straight out from IRON MAIDEN‘s “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” album. Vocals are rough and sung from the throat, giving it a very raw edge, not usually heard for this style of metal. Bassist, Jack does a good job of holding everything together as the rest of the band performs tightly together. A decent introduction, which blazes a path toward the rest of the album.
With the next song, “Degenerate Warlocks” a few cracks began to appear. A total opposite style of metal emerges. The sound flashes back to the band, ANGEL DUST and their superb CD, “Of Human Bondage” (a great album by the way) but missing some of the heaviness. Vocally the singing has a touch of Dave Mustaine’s sound but there are problems in some spots with the pitch, which makes it a little rough on the ears. He also doesn’t venture out of his comfort zone and sings in the same range throughout the entire song. The chorus is a bit weak and unfulfilling and needs some much needed energy and emotion.
The beginning of “Psychohead”, shows an enthusiastic drum pattern performed by drummer RJ, leading into Middle Eastern inspired guitar riffs. The music seems to be a combination of the former two songs, meeting somewhere in the middle which connects all three songs together. But once again we have some pitch problems with the vocals. We do have some nice melodic guitar leads on this one. A good tone, an even keel of playing and a cool double lead, are elements that stand out here. They also have a spotlight on keyboardist, named Solo, as he performs his best DEEP PURPLE influenced, organ work.
As the first three songs have a common thread, tying them together in some way, this next song has nothing in common with them whatsoever. “The Crossroad”, is a slow, ballad type song that actually vocalist, Cleatus, sings well. He reaches out and shows what kind of vocal range he has. It’s a well structured song with a chorus that one can easily become familiarized with.
What seems to be another slow but atmospheric song, “Free Your Soul”, continues in this fashion for about the first two minutes before traveling into a guitar driven downpour. A chaotic, frenzy performed keyboard solo soon chimes in with a sound I haven’t heard since the mid 70’s from the semi-prog band ANGEL. A nice touch but again we have the same problems with the singing. It becomes painful to hear as he tries to hold out notes. The guitar leads are very interesting as they have, once again, a Middle Eastern feel in the beginning section before Ken and fellow guitarist Ash join together for more dual guitar activity . Another well crafted song, with good melody, though some parts are a little repetitive.
“Love Doesn’t Matter” brings us once again, to the ballad type song. This piece sounds like it could have been stolen from the 80’s band, FIREHOUSE. It becomes quite apparent that the vocalist is much more comfortable singing these style songs then the harder ones. Don’t get me wrong, they do these songs very well but they should decide what type of band they want to be as this song, as compared to the first or second songs, are two totally different animals. They also brought in guest vocalist Kathryn Bibby but though she sings very well, it doesn’t add anything to the rest of the song. The song itself it actually very good but It’s also about two minutes too long.
Now we get into an epic introduction with “Dungeons and Dragons”. An up tempo song which brings us back to the MAIDEN sound again, but this time with keyboards out in front. Now we have another good performance by the band, but the ugly monster raises its head once again in the vocals. And do we really need the click track as part of the song? A really good song in terms of the music. The melody is written well except the chorus is sung over and over, leaving the listener wishing different lyrics were used instead of the repetitive,” dungeons and dragons” wording.
I really don’t know how to categorize this band as they have two styles here. There are really two different bands on this album. One minute they want to be a straight forward metal band, but the next minute they have both feet firmly planted in the 1980’s American glam-rock. Very different styles and the band plays both well, but a decision should be made concerning this topic. But the one main problem and it’s a big one, is that they need further development in the vocal area. The vocals waver in many spots as the singer pushes out the notes, and keeping the right pitch is a huge chore. Other areas, such as in execution, performance and song writing, the band is right on the money, so there is much promise here. Now I do understand that just getting a band together in this part of the world is a major undertaking and much credit goes out to that. I do like the band and if they can just fine tune some of these rough spots, they’ll be ok. Maybe one day they can venture out and bring the Metal East to the rest of the world and hear their side of the music. I’m looking forward to their next album and hopefully the promise they hold will come to fruition. 5/10