14 Mar 2014

Subscale - The Last Submission [Full length] (2013, Geenger Records)

Reviewing something like Subscale is a troublesome undertaking. For a lover of the old school and loather of mindless modernity, an album like The Last Submission from a band that has in such a degree soaked up all the clichés and trends of the last 15 years of mainstream metal and hardcore is an unwelcome nostalgia trip to the distant lands of Korn, Slipknot, Killswitch Engage and so on. In 2010 Subscale was formed in Croatia with the first release, the EP "Fictional Constructs", being released in 2012. It wasn't long before the debut album, The Last Submission, was released, with a lineup counting seven people.

The style Subscale represent is computerized nu-metal-core for and from a definite digital age. The project is plentifully staffed, aimed at joining the most heavy, groove-laden elements of nu metal, djent, metalcore and other contemporary genres in one release uninterested in innovation and deviation. Borrowing several factors from especially a North American style, their sound is dense and core-fueled throughout the long-winded album, with each song sprinkled with pleasingly melodic choruses. Despite the apparent abundance of band members the compositions don't sound cluttered, which either speaks of the skills of the sound engineer or the complete redundancy of having so many people in one band.

The Last Submission is heavy-handed and grooving, but at the same time immensely unattractive, inoffensive and thuggish. I mentioned the melodic choruses in an earlier paragraph, which is what carries the band's mainstream appeal, but this is where the pleasantries end. Though the ensemble obviously have great control over the arts of open-stringed chugging riffs (though "riffs" seems a poor term under these circumstances), this recipe gets old fast. With little variation like tight melodies, breaks or anything, it's hard to distinguish between songs were it not for the blandly clean vocal melodies which each and every chorus section has.

Subscale's debut, though neatly produced and well-executed, seems like an unnecessary collection of modern clichés. Despite attempts to keep a high level of energy throughout the album, the amount of investment both the band and the listener can muster half-way through seems to be radically decreasing. The completely interchangable riffs and vocal parts aren't enough to decisively make it worth the chore it is to endure the extended, mindlessly pumping chugs that make up the majority of the material on Subscale's album. Where the band's peers, who have a tight grip on the younger mainstream audience, all have their trademark values, Subscale doesn't amount to set itself apart from the hordes of similar bands that came out 5 or 10 years ago, even if The Last Submission is a wholesome experiment in hte blandness of deep-string chugging. I suspect some people will think this is one of the greatest albums of all time, but I am not one of those people. 5/10 for effort.

1. Interception
2. Fictional Constructs
3. Antecedent
4. Method and Manner
5. Pull the Threads (Extraction)
6. Realization
7. Outreach
8. The Verdict
9. The Last Submission
10. Endgame

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