Parisian djent rockers Outcast are not afraid of bass and for that I salute them. Their third album Awaken The Reason is released next month and I would heartily encourage our dear MaF readers to check it out.
To my ear it's a strange hybrid of Textures crossed with traces of Dillinger Escape Plan (and so much more) with lashings of technical death and progressive metal thrown in for good measure. Apparently Outcast started out as Overlander (way back in 1998) but following a few line-up changes over the years Overlander evolved into Outcast. And so to the review.
It's a big album, both in length and sound; nearly every track comes in over four minutes with one or two even pushing the nine minute mark and Awaken The Reason opens with Elements; it's chock full of fun filled riffs. As mentioned earlier, it reminds me of Dillinger and it has a huge sound. The album was mixed by Jochem Jacobs and the Textures production influence is most apparent. When the double kick drums drop in for a nice cup of tea, I'm smiling my merry little head off; the song is all over the place. Nice.
Abysmal is next and the bass isn't hidden way down in the depths of the mix. The album was mastered by Alan Douches (Mastodon & Dillinger Escape Plan) and he must love a bit of bass 'cos it's all over this one. A strange, insectoid riff dominates but is balanced by some massive chords. At points it almost slips into commercial sounding stuff but is pulled away from that dark abyss by absolutely mental drum work courtesy of Mathieu Santin. The track is quite minimal in places and I'm digging it.
A Solace from the Shade opens with death metal vocals and there's a huge tick for the combined drum and guitar work. It's epic with soaring guitars and makes me want to reach for the stars...
Awaken the Reason - Part IV: When dawn brings clarity starts with some gentle piano and Clement Mauro's fat, fat bass. Then the strings kick in and it's like a French art-house movie soundtrack. It made me think of rain. Quite beautiful and it also acts as a balance against the madness of the first three tracks. I love the fact that bands are willing to put something so beautifully restrained on an album of screaming, heavy madness although it does end with screechy banshee feedback leading into Spin Angular Moments. For me, this tune really is angular; like some heaving retarded roulette wheel. It slips into some gorgeous guitars from Nicholas Soulat and Jean-Francois Di Rienzo and some pummelling bass, with Wilfried Fagnon supplying some lovely vocal lines and harmonies.
Oooh! Unspoken opens with a spooky ticking clock and Wilfried bellows his heart out to rising chords and totally spikey guitars that ring out - the drums are going ballistic (Mathieu is a master on the skins) and the fucking bass is still there! There's a lovely piece of arrangement about four minutes in that really strikes a chord with me. Gorgeous.
Isolation opens with reverbed guitars and it's like Outcast are giving us a moment to catch our breath - then it builds to orchestral levels of sound. It's like a dawn soaked in blood. Then the brutality kicks in again yet there's a string of mellowness through out it all. Sections are dropping in and out, it builds and fades. I was actually fooled into thinking Isolation was finishing only for it to leap back into life again and again. Though I must admit to a slight disappointment that there was no mention of Howard Moon, desert islands or coconuts...but there's also some nice cock waggling guitar towards the end of this one.
Track eight is Fallen Years which doesn't really hold any surprises though it is still djenty goodness through and through.
What would be my Final Commitment (Outcast's punctuation, not mine) has some lovely bass work and we find the whole band going totally nuts but then the break comes in, all flared trousers and laid back grooves - this track has more swings than a children's playground and the death metal vocals get another good outing.
Man's Last Failure has a sexy riff for a backbone but like Fallen Years, it doesn't deliver anything new. It's still good though and you can't expect an album as complex as this to constantly offer up mind blowing moments; or can you?
Awaken the Reason - Part XI: Reprise opens with the mellow guitars (I'm not sure what happened to parts five through to ten?) then drums like a gunshot signal an almost groove/funk section that cuts to some beastly (in a good way) wailing. Like so much of this album, the composition is inspired. About four and half minutes in and it gets all groovy again - will it last? No, it goes almost jazz (djazz?), or at the very least it gets a touch Frank Zappa-esque, which then gets crushed under drums and guitars that batter us to the outro. Phew.
This album demands your attention. Admittedly, it may be a touch over-long in places but is well worth a listen.