Released: 2005, Raven Flight Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
I didn’t think it was possible for A Lower Deep to become darker than they were on 2004’s PARABLE OF THE THORN but indeed they have succeeded. TRINITY, the band’s fourth release, is yet another dour slice of doom-laden, U.S. power metal that is devoid of the pomp and cheer of most bands on the scene. Tuned lower than Nevermore, more introspective than Jag Panzer and more melancholy than Evergrey, TRINITY succeeds on so many levels where it should fail and that is precisely what sets this band apart from the pack of power metal clones that litter today’s metal scene. The production values have vastly improved over PARABLE OF THE THORN, as well, but there is still room for improvement. Everything is separated nicely but there is still a murkiness that bleeds through most of the tracks. The band has also dropped some of the more progressive elements that weighed down their previous release with unnecessary moodiness and the brisker pacing and reeled in musicianship (those songs could still use some trimming around the edges) has created a much more cohesive package. One that, dare I say, should make some of the major indies stand up and (finally) take notice.
“Ascent of The Fallen” continues A Lower Deep’s tradition of an opening track that instantly grabs the listener. David Lee’s hypnotic drum beat sets forth a groove driven by a seven-string undercurrent from Troy Reid. The band has obviously tuned down in places on this release but rather than pander to sloppy playing, Reid has actually improved in spades with his playing. The off-kilter time of this track can take a few spins before getting into it but once it clicks, it is apparent that A Lower Deep has really done their homework in the past year. Billy Mullican’s pained wail still echoes that of Nevermore’s Warrel Dane but the vocalist has experimented with some studio trickery such as double-tracking vocals with a death metal growl that compliment each other very well. “A Grief Observed,” my personal choice cut here, unleashes in a torrent of double bass and seven-string madness that is faster than most of A Lower Deep’s other works. The pacing helps, especially with such a morose sound that hangs over most of the CD. The accompanying solo from Reid absolutely smokes and Mullican’s vocal range is showcased alongside that of his daughter on a brief vocal interlude. “Sisyphus Resigned” is David Lee’s song, plain and simple. Why Lee is still credited as a guest musician after his stunning work here and on PARABLE OF THE THORN is beyond me because he is obviously the perfect man for the job. Lee’s thunderous kick drums and tight rolls on this track provide a solid framework that is ready for the big time. The Iced Earth similarities can be drawn on the galloping riffs of the sprawling seven-minute “Gods and Monsters” before the crushing rhythm section of Lee and Tim Umstead on “Lost In Eden” descends upon you. “My Enemy’s Enemy” is a groovy slab of crunchy yet melodic bliss with a solo that echoes the classic rock of the 70s and a chorus as vicious sounding as the most sinister of vocalists dare to attempt.
The select few that have been on A Lower Deep’s wavelength since their 2000 demo will be doing cartwheels at the band’s unwavering ability to maintain their integrity and not compromise their initial vision on this, their fourth release. TRINITY sees the natural progression of this band and the improvements made in just a year is impressive enough but when looking at the big picture, A Lower Deep is poised for the next chapter to open in their career. It has been a pleasure riding the buzz along the way and with any luck, A Lower Deep will overcome the sea of repetitive metalcore dross and finally get what they so greatly deserve thanks to the divine TRINITY.
KILLER KUTS: “Ascent of The Fallen,” “A Grief Observed,” “Lost In Eden,” “My Enemy’s Enemy”