After all of this FEAR FACTORY nonsense and the disappointing debut of Modern Metal super group ARKAEA, it’s nice to know that a person can always come back to THREAT SIGNAL. Of course, I know that two of the members were also responsible for ARKAEA and its some what lackluster album, but when it comes down to it, the second album from these Canadian Metal mixers makes up a lot for what has failed me this year.
“Vigilance” is the return of THREAT SIGNAL after their very impressive debut in 2006. Does it hold up to the first release? In my opinion, not quite, but the more cohesive and solidified sound on “Vigilance” takes the band in a slightly new direction with their music that differs from the overly clean and layered first album.
The first thing one is going to notice is that the production isn’t your ordinary Modern Metal style. Normally, as with their first album, these kind of bands really focus on the synthetic quality of their music, giving crisp and clean sound with lots of layering and an almost Industrial-esque atmosphere. “Vigilance” however takes it in a new direction, giving the album a slightly dirtier quality with some lower guitar tones and pulling away from synth layering in the background. The production is tight and the mix is slightly vocal heavy, but otherwise an interesting and positive step to make the band stand even further out from their peers.
As for the musical side of this new THREAT SIGNAL effort, the band feels far more cohesive and together than they did on their last outing. Mixing MESHUGGAH rhythms and riffs with some more standard Thrash elements and always keeping a sense of melody with guitars and/or Jon Howard’s vocals, the band just sounds tighter as a whole. Keeping some nice diversity on the album helps too by allowing the synths to still have their place like on “Through My Eyes”, throwing in varying song structures, and even the occasional melodic guitar intro like on the interestingly offbeat “Lost”. The band may start to sound a bit repetitive by the last third of the album on the surface, but the subtle intricacies of their music kept me listening.
The only thing that really kept this album from reaching the high quality of the debut was a bit of its repetitiveness towards the end and for some reason it just didn’t grab me by the balls like “Under Reprisal” did – perhaps it just lost its ‘surprise’ factor. This is still a great album for 2009 and redemptive for some of the year’s earlier Modern Metal records. It’s a more cohesive and rawer look at the world of THREAT SIGNAL and I’m digging what they were throwing down.
Songs to check out: “Afterlife”, “The Beginning Of The End”, “Another Source Of Light”.
(Online September 27, 2009)