Released: 2006, Galy Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Galy Records’ latest Quebecois signing is Montreal’s Shaolin, a deathcore band in a similar vein as Bloodshoteye, Despised Icon and Ion Dissonance. Shaolin utilizes two vocalists—one male and one female—and incorporate elements of brutal death metal, hardcore breakdowns and some of the technical riffing of classic grind. While the five songs on GAINING FREEDOM AT THE EXPENSE OF VIRTUE certainly are brutal, what they lack is excitement. A six-piece, two-vocalist band should exude dynamics but besides some technical bass wizardy from Vincent Gratton-Jacob and the how-low-can-she-go vocals of Genevieve Charbonneau, there isn’t much to rave about here. The EP is also terribly produced with the drums overpowering everything and leaving the guitars barely audible. By the time I was through the first two songs, the endless double bass felt like a jackhammer burrowing through my skull and after several follow-up listens, the end result was the same. Heavy is good; annoying is not.
“Shoot To Kill” is a grinding slab of angry, noisy metal that motors along but goes on for about two minutes too long. Charles-Andre Chamard’s blasting and double bass lacks bottom end, sounding far too clicky (think the botched job on Krisiun’s CONQUERORS OF ARMAGEDDON) and almost completely drowns out the vocals and guitars. “Lives Lost To Greed” and “Corrupted State of Mind” are rudimentary hardcore songs complete with breakdowns and shouted gang vocals, a style that is so overdone these days, it should be punishable by law. Charbonneau channels Bloodshoteye’s Jessika Desjardins with distorted growls on “Losing The Battle” that are impressive and Gratton-Jacob’s bass noodling that kicks in after the three-minute mark is also commendable. Of the five tracks, this one is the keeper not only for its simplicity but for the fact that it stands out from the mucky sameness of the rest. The metalcore/melodic death bandwagon gets taken for a spin around the block on “To Achieve Liberation,” as Sebastian Bernier and Frederic Beland tinkle away with dual melodic riffing and a ferocious breakdown is executed but this is tired, tired, tired…
It appears that Shaolin is a rare misstep for Galy Records, in that, the Quebec-based label consistently delivers new and interesting bands who are not paint-by-numbers acts riding the wave of the latest trend. Unfortunately, GAINING FREEDOM AT THE EXPENSE OF VIRTUE failed to click because of a feeling of sameness that runs throughout Shaolin’s debut. The band is undeniably heavy and the male/female vocal shtick certainly sets them apart from the pack but besides that, there isn’t much here that hasn’t been done better in the past by other bands.
KILLER KUTS: “Shoot To Kill,” “Losing The Battle”