Released: 2008, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Every once in awhile, a band comes along that really stands out by delivering something unique. In what is typically a stagnant genre, metal bands are strictly defined by classifications and closed-mindedness. But when a forward-thinking group like Epicurean dares to release an album as bold as A CONSEQUENCE OF DESIGN, all rules are cast aside. Combining progressive melodic death with symphonic tapestries, rich choruses and a vocal dynamic that is simply irresistible, the debut album (apparently shrouded in a cryptically-described concept) from this Minnesota group has been out for just over a year now but after just wrapping up a lengthy North American tour opening for Kreator and Exodus, the band should be fresh in metalheads’ collective consciousness.
The epic keyboards of Jared Schneider burst out from A CONSEQUENCE OF DESIGN from all sides, nestling a solid place within the context of the music, much like that of Mercenary, Bleeding Through or Children of Bodom. “The Author and The Architect” and “The Burden of Eternity” ooze with a majestic extravagance thanks to the swirling keyboards, while on “Illumination,” they are intertwined with the battle-ready, speed riffs of Jared Mills and John Major to create a soundscape of intricate design. “Dividing The Distance” finds Mills and Major dueling like Iron Maiden/Judas Priest, but even beyond that, this is a well-written song that defies the age and experience of the band members. John Laramy provides a varied vocal style throughout, shifting between a gruff roar and a soothing clean vocal on the impossibly catchy “Behind The Chapel Walls” (a close comparison would be Scar Symmetry’s Christian Alvestam) but some may find Laramy also dips into choruses that get a little too sugary on “Darkest Days” and “Lithograph.” Still, this approach might give followers of All That Remains and Killswitch Engage something to grab on to, as well. The one plus that Epicurean brings to the table—and so proudly displays on its MySpace page—is that they have been and intend to remain “breakdown-free,” a relief given the influx of metalcore and deathcore bands currently using that technique as a crutch to be “heavy.”
Hopefully, A CONSEQUENCE OF DESIGN brings good things to Epicurean because, if nothing else, the band knows how to write a heavy but catchy song that doesn’t rely on gimmicks like a pop chorus or breakdown to drive the point home. It is difficult to pick out a bona fide dud here and with such a unique and truly enjoyable album under their belts to set the bar, Epicurean faces a tough road ahead to avoid getting sucked into the machine of clichéd metal. But if A CONSEQUENCE OF DESIGN is any indication, look for big things ahead from Epicurean.
KILLER KUTS: “The Author and The Architect,” “The Burden of Eternity,” “Illumination,” “Dividing The Distance,” “Of Malice and Majesty”