Noxx – Dawn Of Chaos

(Note: this review is based off an updated version of this EP, which possesses two additional tracks: ‘Nox’ and ‘Abandoned’.)

There’s consistent debate in the metal scene over whether metal should be embracing rock music or distancing itself from its sister genre. I’m falling somewhere in between; I believe that in certain areas, it’s an appropriate addition, whereas in others it’s woefully misplaced. However, in either circumstance, the inclusion of significant rock influences tends to make the music, at the least, rather unique. Certainly, bands such as Darkthrone wouldn’t be nearly what they are without the influence of rock music on their compositions; in this regard, you’d think more would be accepting of such notes, and yet, they seem not to be.

The subject here is New York’s Noxx, a band that ostensibly takes its cues from Swedish and Finnish melodic death metal, among a laundry list of other influences. A laundry list that nowhere includes rock music, despite the fact that such a genre is easily the most obvious influence here. Seriously, the best description here would be a rock band playing an approximation of Gothenburg melodic death, resulting in some bizarre half point between. Instances of this are scattered all over this EP, from the high emphasis on bass guitar to the very rockish drumming. Now, this doesn’t inherently have an effect on the quality of the music, but it certainly alters its course.

Now, as a basement recording session, the sound quality is predictably horrid, but this is an issue of little consequence. The disc opens up with ‘Dawn Of Chaos’, which showcases probably the best aspects of Noxx. Slowly unfolding landscape drapes across the ears and reminds you (if you’ve done such a thing) of primitive recording sessions with your own friends. Simple, major key melody displays both a knowledge of what sounds good as well as a sort of youthful wonder. Now, this is, at its roots, a rock song. However, it’s a really good, atmospheric, prettily done rock song. And, like many of the best parts of this EP, it’s not self-conscious or second-guessing itself, unlike other songs that seem to change direction out of perceived lacks in songwriting. But this is the best because it ignores such things, and simply constructs.

The grasp of Gothenburg melody is sort of there, but there’s a big reliance on small two-note rockish lead guitar that, while not unpleasant sounding, is rather predictable in the scheme of things. It’s hard to genuinely call this melodic death metal: it’s mostly mid-paced and rockish. Not to say certain parts aren’t fairly asskicking- a little over half way through ‘Apocalypse’ has some fun soloing that, once again, doesn’t question its own integrity. So what’s the rub? The vocals. They sound too young and overbearingly eeeeeeeeeevil during the wide-mouthed melodeath growls and too strained during the clean portions. On top of some pretty hit or miss lyrics (‘Dark Angel’ in particular makes me cringe quite a bit), the performance as a whole detracts from the music pretty significantly. Musically, however, the band functions fine: just see the closing cover of In Flames’ ‘Subterranean’, where even the vocals are tremendously improved (at least in the clean department), making this one of the high points of the disc.

Overall, while still somewhat unformed, ‘Dawn Of Chaos’ is an ambitious release from such young musicians. Hopefully, with improved recording and more decisive songwriting, they can come into their own.

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~ by noktorn on February 24, 2007.

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