Released: 2009, Self Produced
Founded in Barcelona, Spain, four-piece Noxius Corp’s EP, GREY SHADES is another foray into the symphonic goth metal genre. Front woman and mulit-octave vocalist Laura Espejo is the centerpiece of a band that seems determined to follow a pattern that has led to success for bands like Lacuna Coil and Beseech. Laura occasionally trades vocals with male singer Lord Dan, whose vocals are much more death metal and gruff than either of the two bands just mentioned. Granted, Noxious Corp’s formula is not really original, but there are a few qualities that help separate this band from dozens of others in the symphonic metal genre.
The opening title track quickly demonstrates a much greater progressive metal leaning than in most goth metal bands. The opening riff would make Fates Warning or Dream Theater proud, with time changes and complex arrangements that are moved along by consummate drumming from Luka Kai. You also get an introduction to the vocal styles of Lord Dan, a throwback to the classic bowel grind and unintelligible vocal school of death metal, a style that been done before and often. Actually, Lord Dan’s growling is kinda cool, but it also detracts from some songs, as clearly Laura should be doing all the singing here. Which brings me to a point I do not understand with many of these bands; if you have a great singer, why have a mediocre one step all over that? I get the idea of contrasting styles and mixing anger and aggression with softness and silk, but sometimes, letting the better singer handle all of the vocals works best.
“Screaming Silently” is the track that reveals the most potential in this band, as Laura handles almost all the vocal duties and the song is a good complement of melodic guitars and fast sweep picking. “I Hate The World” is definitely the spotlight track musically, with a heavy opening riff, and an unconventional verse rhythm. Laura really climbs into the upper registers on this one, while Lord Dan mucks about in the ditches. As cool as the music is, this song, like the rest of the album fails to really stand out and make a lasting impression. The band has incorporated several styles here, including death, goth, symphonic, and progressive metal. The combination is in some ways, original. On the other hand, there are perhaps too many styles, and if you need a clue as to the kitchen sink ethic, look no further than the vocoder abuse thrown in near the end of “Screaming Silently” and the dance remix of the title track (which is actually pretty catchy).
Musically, the band is tight and accomplished and the production is top notch as well. The guitar solos are all awesome, and the bass and drums are locked in and pound like pistons. However, Noxious Corp will need to focus their ambitions and pare down the styles to achieve a lasting mark on the metal community. Fans of symphonic goth with a progressive element will find worthwhile listening here, but nothing of lasting consequence. File this band under wait and see; the potential is undeniable, the composition, a bit too ambitious at this point.