Released: 2008, Spare Change Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
CYCLES OF RELEVANCE marks the debut release from New York’s Eden A.D. The liner notes on the CD state “for fans of In Flames, Soilwork, etc”. I’m assuming that tidbit was intended as a disclaimer, as the band unabashedly wears its influences on its sleeve. Unfortunately Eden A.D. doesn’t come close to comparisons of those influences.
After the instrumental intro “Cycle”, the album begins with “The Icarus Factor.” Chock full of riffs pulled straight from the In Flames playbook, things are passable up until the point when vocalist Thomas Rosario opens his mouth, at which point the train begins to derail. I’m not sure what kind of vibe that Rosario is attempting to pull off with his vocal style, but seriously, it’s terrible. Not quite thrashy, not quite death, he sounds like a bullfrog with a sore throat. If you’ve ever heard Tenacious D’s “Inward Singing” routine, slap some limp rasp on top of it and you’ll get the picture. On “Glass Eye Perception”, Rosario vehemently declares “In the land of the blind/the man with one eye/IS KING!” The delivery is so ridiculous, I found myself chuckling out loud.
The liner notes also point out that the band has spent the last five years “sharpening their live performance”, but any cohesiveness that they’ve gained during those five years is lacking from CYCLES OF RELEVANCE. The rest of the band gets an “E” for effort, but their lack of musical prowess is painfully obvious, especially in comparison to the heroes that they seem to admire. Drummer Eric Chun sounds like he’s off doing his own thing throughout much of the album and never quite syncs with the rest of the band. During “Awaken”, Eden A.D. shows their softer side with some whispers and interlude. I suspect that during this quiet time, the drum tracks were swapped with an old Casio keyboard on the pre-programmed “Rumba” or “Samba” settings, because that’s what it sounds like (1-and-2-and1-and-2…you get the idea). The guitar team of Leonardo Mattei and John Moustakas never break out of their comfort zone, either a result of poorly intended restraint or limited ability. Bass player Leonard Mattei is lost in the mix and as such gets a free pass.
And that’s the other thing that really tanks CYCLES OF RELEVANCE, the mix. I’m all for independent and underground, but the overall sound quality on the disc is just poor. As goofy as the vocals are, they are especially weak in the mix which doesn’t help the case in that department. Additionally, Chun’s drum cymbals are waaay up front, only drawing more attention to things. The only remotely redeeming quality of the record is the production, which is nostalgically reminiscent of the Studio Fredman releases from the Swedish death scene in the early ‘90s. I don’t think that was their intention at all, but the dated sound quality recalls a simpler time when albums like this still might not have passed the bar, but would have at least gotten closer to it.
I’d like to give Eden A.D. the benefit of the doubt and chalk CYCLES OF RELEVANCE up to a poor recording experience, but good grief, this is not the first impression that an up and coming band wants to make. Maybe a rawer, live record would have been a better introduction? Maybe a little bit longer on the live circuit before entering the studio would have tightened up the delivery? The only reason that I could recommend CYCLES OF RELEVANCE would be to make you really appreciate the bands that play this style of metal so much better.