With the monumental success of acts like TRIVIUM and BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE, it was a wonder that a band like ADRENALINE didn’t happen to catch an audience earlier in their career. But alas, such is the music industry with trends and ADRENALINE has just recently put out their debut album, “Castrum Dolores”, to much critical acclaim.
Ironically, it’s the critical acclaim that their debut album received that made me edgy when going into it. Kerrang Magazine hyped the hell out of the band with subscriber votes and fairly strong reviews of their second EP and this album. But I’ve come to be very critical of what Kerrang claims to be “the next step in Metal” and what the band actually is. So when I first listened to “Castrum Dolores”, I found myself shocked with the material. It actually lived up to most of the hype.
“Castrum Dolores” is a Modern Thrash Metal romp with plenty of Metalcore nuances to keep the younger generation interested, but what separates ADRENALINE from said bands mentioned in the introduction is that they simply play with conviction and heart. They may not have the technical prowess of TRIVIUM but they come across as already more mature in songwriting and presentation at this point of their career. The band gives great dynamics on the album with leads and groove inspired riffs that don’t quite fall into the ‘breakdown’ category at times. “Castrum Dolores” pops with some great performances to accompany the songwriting whether it’s the badass bass break to introduce “Sins Of A Thousand” or the galloping rhythms of “Smile” there is a lot of love about it. “Castrum Dolores” may not be the most original album to blend Thrash and Metalcore together, but the band plays it with such verve and heartiness that it doesn’t feel stale.
Unfortunately, this debut album isn’t the full success story as it might have been. There are some elements that may have been stronger for the band to fully place their foot on the throat of their listener. Firstly, I really wanted to hear a bit more technical guitar work. They have the beefy melody injected riffs down pact on the album but a few solos here and there could have given it a bit more ‘oomph’ to push it to 11 on the amplifiers. Many songs just ached to have a mini-solo thrown in and some of the structuring even lead one to believe it was coming – but it never did. Secondly, although the band reaches some interesting dynamics with the vocals it is the sung sections that tend to weaken many of the songs. It’s nice to have those duel vocal melodies and off setting elements but the production on the singing parts weakens the overall flow of songs. The vocals tend to get stronger as the album progresses with the last few songs being some of the best for the vocalist (“Smile” ends up being a top track for the record because the softer vocals worked so well), but it overall could have been processed and made even stronger. But really these are the only two elements on “Castrum Dolores” that weaken it.
It’s a great debut for the band and ADRENALINE are already leaps and bounds ahead of their peers at this point in their musical career. Lots of wonderful things to admire on the album including their mature songwriting and some great performances, but they still aren’t quite to the point of amazing yet. If they continue on this path though they will reach those heights very soon. TRIVIUM eat your heart out.
Songs to check out: “Smile”, “Nos Da”, “Kill It For Me”.
(Online December 25, 2008)