Whenever a bizarre creation graces my ears, I can’t help but revert back to singing the lyrics to DEF LEPPARD’S “Armageddon It." There’s just something to that ironic and probably unintentional wittiness of the “You’ve got it…But are you getting it?” part that sticks in my head every time a group of fairly talented yet bored musicians try to fiddle with genre bending ideas with an obviously cavalier attitude. The Italian/Croatian born SPELLBOUND DAZZLE is among the more extreme examples of this sort of experience, putting forth what is likely among the more strange yet somewhat enticing albums since FAITH NO MORE’S “The Real Thing” in “Unreal Fairytales."
The greatest strength of this album is that, as long as any said influence is catchy, it has a place on here somewhere. When hearing some of the more methodically created, radio friendly numbers such as “Goodbye My Love” and “The Foolin’ Of Each Other," just about every base from thudding metallic and Hardcore grooves interacts with a host of Jazz, Hard Rock and some Folksy Mediterranean influences. The presentation clearly has a Pop/Rock tinge to it, but the level of technical ability and precision on display is a bit more advanced than the standard mainstream Metalcore band, not to mention that the vocal work is versatile and mostly clean. It’s both modern and old school at the same time, and the borders between the two are blurred so greatly that its hard to find where the former ends and the latter begins.
Unfortunately, the greatest weakness of this album is that, as long as any said influence is catchy, it has a place on here somewhere. For all of the solid technical displays, varied vocal characters at play, and an genre eclecticism that screams Avant-garde, this album largely contradicts it’s own purpose by simply putting together radio-friendly songs that leave almost as quickly as they come, and contain melodic hooks that just barely avoid being BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE fodder. “Monster” is a particularly annoying example where the clear influence is SYSTEM OF A DOWN, and apart from a flashy, 80s sounding guitar solo, the thing just plods along on a predictable groove and tries to surround it with overdone vocal melodrama. “When I Touch Myself” actually becomes unintentionally funny and takes the same SYSTEM OF A DOWN vocal character and tries to transform it into a Soul singing style while resting on top of a cheesy 80s Rock riff obscured by being tuned down way too far.
This is the sort of album that would be a decent listen if hanging out at a local bar and the band was playing it or a song or two was played on the jukebox. But like the vast majority of Pop infused studio efforts, having an entire album of this is too much and halfway through someone looking for Metal (aka me) won’t last long after the halfway point. It’s definitely on a higher skill level than the average hack band trying to sound like MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE, but unless someone can’t get enough of the latest ATREYU or AVENGED SEVENFOLD tagalong, this is little more than a gimmick album that, in spite of some ideas with a lot of potential, just can’t help but sound generic in spite of itself. This sort of music appeals to a good number of people today, I’m just not one of them.
(Online June 19, 2011)