Released: 2007, Metal Blade
From the land of Monty Python and foods with names like 'Bubble And Squeak,' 'Toad In The Hole' and 'Groaty Dick Pudding' comes Anterior, the newest acquisition of Metal Blade Records. Speaking of unusual names, one would hope a group with a moniker that means 'at the front or fore' would hold true to that name by standing out at the forefront of their genre or at least offering something new and different to the listeners, but on their debut album THIS AGE OF SILENCE, Anterior is instead a square peg firmly set in the middle of the round hole of an overcrowded and overhyped scene - namely the metalcore crowd. The good news is the group shows a tremendous amount of potential on this disc, but the bad news is they've got some work to do in order to truly develop that potential.
After the throwaway instrumental intro finishes up, first real track "The Silent Divide" opens up well enough with some WHORACLE-era In Flames-y riffing and hammering drum work, but then the real problem surfaces in the voice of vocalist Luke Davies. Davies, unfortunately, has exactly the same delivery style and tone as just about every other hardcore/metalcore vocalist you've ever heard, which is a real head-scratcher because the music as a whole doesn't sound all that much like metalcore...as the tracks progress, there are obvious nods both in riffs and melodies to Iron Maiden, Children of Bodom, old Arch Enemy, and even shred-guitar oriented bands like Racer X. The latter reference brings me to the guitar leads, which are undoubtedly the real gems in Anterior's otherwise lackluster crown - both Davies and Kemp are phenomenally talented axemen and not the least bit hesitant about unleashing blazing lead breaks at every available opportunity. Unfortunately, other than those superb fretboard-melting runs and some exceptional drum work from skinsman Ross Andrews, there's really not much that grabs the ear - a majority of the tracks seem to blend into one another with very little that can be considered memorable. A few cuts like the galloping "Days Of Deliverance" and the hammer-pounding and heavy breakdown-laden "Scar City" have some solid hooks and come closest to being standouts, but even those tunes are knocked back into the realm of mediocrity by Davies' totally-inappropriate-for-the-style hardcore shouting. It's a real shame because there are so many little flashes of brilliance interspersed throughout the morass of heard-it-before-ness it soon becomes blatantly obvious this album could and should have been something amazing.
In the end, THIS AGE OF SILENCE is a decent listen, but presents nothing really new. Diehard fans of bands like Shadows Fall and Trivium will eat this up, but until Anterior gets a better handle on writing memorable hooks and/or Luke Davies alters his vocal style to something a bit less generic (or they get a full-time vocalist and let Davies just concentrate on guitar shredding), I can't really recommend their music too highly. Still, they have stunning musical chops and plenty of potential, so it's worth watching them in the future to see how they grow with time and experience.