Wednesday, 3 August 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Æges - "Weightless"

By: Phil Weller 

 
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 22/07/2016
Label: Another Century Records

 
 
The rampant, ground-shaking riffs in which ‘Above & Down Below’ both hinged and thrived on, while still present, are sparse and feel a little undervalued. Instead, a radio friendly, vocal and chorus centric approach orchestrates the album’s sonic personality.
 
“Weightless” CD//DD//LP track listing:
 
1). Weightless
2). Save Us
3). A Reason Why
4). Clear
5). All of Me
6). Another Wasteland
7). Echoes
8). What If
9). Nothing to Prove
10). Better
11). Drown
12). Listening
13). Drying Out
 
The Review:  
 
Since the release of 2014’s album, ‘Above & Down Below, Æges’ stock has been slowly rising. The icing on the cake for the band during this whirlwind past few years will no doubt be their appearance on a bill alongside Tool, Primus and Coheed & Cambria on Halloween of last year. Rubbing shoulders with Maynard and company however seems to have had a big influence on the band as far as media hyping is concerned. Already bigging up what initially appeared to be a rapid follow-up to ‘Above & Down Below’, for a while before the show, posting snippets of video shots in their studio in Downtown LA, since that Halloween show the hype machine has gone into overdrive. And so at first glance now ‘Weightless’ has arrived, it feels a little anti-climatic.
 
The rampant, ground-shaking riffs in which ‘Above & Down Below’ both hinged and thrived on, while still present, are sparse and feel a little undervalued. Instead, a radio friendly, vocal and chorus centric approach orchestrates the album’s sonic personality.
 
Although the gap between the two albums, in context, is far from vast, it just feels that, after such a long, winding trail of hyperbole from the band, they’ve veered away from the magic that the excitement from within their fan base was founded upon.
 
That being said, this is a record which gains momentum and weight upon heavy rotation. The more the title track’s thumping introduction and melodious chorus hits your ears, the more fun it becomes. ‘A Reason Why’ marries their individualistic big, romping riffs with an even bigger chorus well, finding the perfect balance between the two schools of thought which seem to be waging war on each other across this record. It stands tall, the record’s stand out moment and a song to keep hold of.
 
Clear’ is bolstered by a slick usage of the whammy pedal – with elephantine squeals aplenty – while ‘What If’, a real snaking song, is driven by a venomous vocal performance. Yet, you feel it tries too hard to be anthemic, repetitions of the chorus too common and, at 4:42 it does little to keep your attention after the first couple of minutes.
 
Surprisingly, ‘Echoes’ returns from ‘Above & Down Below, and its conclusion seems pointless. Any variations here are very minor and it leaves you feeling a little cheated, detracting from the new material so many have been desperate to hear for a long time now.
 
Then there’s ‘All of Me’.  While it is still a weighty song, its riffs and the admittedly potent music feels undervalued in favour of that aforementioned radio friendly approach. Not enough of their original magic shines through a top layer which doesn’t truly justify its dominance.  Another Wasteland’ picks the momentum right back up however, with a pulsating main riff. Wrapped in an airy atmosphere, the slow bludgeoning riff that thunders throughout the latter stages provides more evidence of what this band is capable off, just not executing enough here.
 
In the end then, you are left with a mixed bag of songs. Their best elements are still present but are chained up, shackled. It comes across as a tamer effort than its barnstorming predecessor, their crosshairs honing in on a more mainstream audience. But if that is their plan of attack then they really should have worked harder on giving these songs a more predatorial edge. There is no real killer instinct about them apart from a few trend breakers. There just isn’t the array of songs which, upon first listen become instantaneously infectious and memorable; the kind that ‘Above & Down Below basked in.
 
Not a bad record, but one marred by never really getting out of third gear.
 
Weightless” is available now
 
Band info: facebook

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