Released: 2014, Eclipse Records
Despite reviewing tons of Power Metal for Metal-Rules.com, I do listen to and enjoy most styles of Metal. Normally, I would not review a slower, industrial-tinged dark Metal band, but something about Our Last Enemy caught my ear. In fact, I almost did not bother with this album at all for a number of reasons.
-They were described as industrial, which is usually the kiss of death. Strike One.
-They talked about touring with lame bands like Static X and Dope, which is NOT something I would brag about! Strike Two.
-Apparently some people from Genitorturers and Fear Factory were involved but no self-respecting Metal fan cares about that, it’s not a selling point. Strike Three.
-The band is signed to Eclipse Records which has or had artists like Bobaflex, Single Bullet Theory and Mushroomhead on their roster. Strike Four.
-I’m not thrilled with the band name, it sounds like a 90’s mallcore band. Strike Five.
Oddly enough the press release says, “There is no metal for the sake of being metal on the record”. What a horrible, horrible thing to say. Strike Six! When I read that, I almost deleted the digital music file on the spot (with extreme prejudice) as that comment is the antithesis of our entire site!
However… (sigh) one has to keep an open mind and I listened to PARIAH and I actually really enjoyed it! Shows you what I know. It’s a good thing I was never good at baseball either or I would have dismissed this most excellent record after Strike Three.
Our Last Enemy is a quintet from Sydney, Australia who have been around for a few years. To get some technical information out of the way, this is not really a new album. PARIAH is generous with 14 tracks running almost 77 minutes. However, essentially the band has just reissued their 2010 debut album, FALLEN EMPIRES. Eight of the eleven tracks on FALLEN EMPIRES appear on PARIAH. The band had an EP in 2012 and three of those cuts made it onto PARIAH. The remaining three tracks are remixes which is, stylistically speaking, a bad move and remixes not well regarded practice the Metal community, having too much of the taint of industrial or techno. Even the cover art is the same, however the album cover is really nice, sporting a great visual. So if you have the debut and the EP, ‘buyer beware’ unless you want to shell out good money for three remixes.
Despite all those negatives, PARIAH is a really good record. The tag ‘industrial’ is a bit unfair because they are quite heavy and certainly metallic. There are some staccato drum lines and lots of stop-start arrangements of the songs, but not enough to ruin the pace of the song, or the album as a whole. It is certainly not linear, fluid or melodic, but that is not the point. I hear lots of dark touches that one might hear on some latter-era albums by Moonspell, Samael, Rotting Christ, Septic Flesh, or Tiamat. It is almost like a blackened industrial mix. The vocals are very harsh, certainly a saving grace for a band with so many potential flaws on paper. The vocals range from Death growls, to a bit more of a spoken word style, delivered in a really nice baritone, maybe bringing that Fernando Riberia (Moonspell) comparison to mind. At times the vocals drop into a generic, 90’s Phil Anselmo shouting style of delivery, which rubs me the wrong way. Both singers have good voices with range and power, they don’t have to shout to get their point across. Aside from that minor complaint, the vocals are compelling, diverse and really well done.
The production is fantastic, very dynamic with a very busy sound aided by a clear mix and good placement of the variety of sounds in the mix. The synthesized, ambient passages (kept to a minimum) nicely offset the harsher faster parts. The album sounds good and is really innovative and progressive. The band isn’t afraid to pick up the pace as cuts like ‘Pariah A.D.’ cut loose with some good double-kick parts. I especially enjoyed the performance of Jeff, the drummer on the song, ‘What You Say’ on what sounds like some nice quick work on the bell of the ride cymbal. PARIAH is quite avante-garde; presenting a very dark, aggressive intensity to the songs, self-described as post-apocalyptic which is pretty accurate. These guys are the house band of Midian and I’m pretty sure that Pinhead himself, has a tattoo that says Our Last Enemy.
I learned my lesson many years ago not to ‘listen with my eyes’ and it has served me well, especially in this instance where I could have ignored a really good record. I’m glad that PARIAH has been reissued to give people (like me) another chance to hear something they might have missed out on the first time.