EPICUREAN’S A CONSEQUENCE OF DESIGN INJECTS A WELCOME DOSE OF EUROPE INTO AMERICANA METAL
For their Metal Blade debut A Consequence of Design, the six Minneapolis, Minnesota-based lads of Epicurean venture down a well-worn path of American metal but inject a more distinctly European metal feel than most of their American counterparts, making for a record that could be predictable but ends up being more enjoyable than you’d expect.
Keyboards are often at the front of the mix or not far behind it, adding a decidedly European flavor to their blend of thrash, hardcore and NWOBHM-style guitar melodies. Epicurean’s songwriting is their strongsuit; the tunes on A Consequence of Design usually clock in between the 5 and 7 minute marks and meander in such a way that strikes the right balance of familiarity and unpredictability.
When Jared Schneider’s keyboards aren’t doing the talking John Major and Jared Mills’ guitars are, sometimes separately but often together. Gothenburg-style harmonies and melodies dominate the melodic but heavy up-tempo songs beneath John Gensmer’s bombastic, triggered, enormous-sounding drums. The production is huge and also very European in nature, calling to mind the fists-to-the-sky power metal of MetalSucks faves Mercenary. But John Laramy’s vocal approach is decidedly more hardcore in nature, in closer keeping with most bands this side of the pond. Laramy does an adequate job on the screamed parts in the verses, but the choruses are unfortunately a tad predictable with his clean sung vocals often doused in a heavy helping of auto-tune/vocoder as in “Behind the Chapel Walls” and “Lithograph.” Nevertheless the guitarists do a fine job displaying their technical prowess when called upon, shredding and sweep-picking with the best of ’em. Together with Schneider’s keyboards they create a sonic stew that’s an interesting mix of new and classical metal (the bass meanwhile is right where it always is these days, buried deep beneath everything else). “Illumination” is a highlight, a track darker in tone than most that showcases the best elements of Epicurean’s sound. The Slash-esque guitar solo of “Anathema: The Gate Keeper” is also a winner that stands out.
A Consequence of Design isn’t going to shatter barriers for Epicurean, but it could put them on the radar in a crowded genre; I can see them going over well amongst the Black Dahlia Murder crowd. While this album may not propel them into the stratosphere, it shows that the band members certainly have the potential to develop their sound into something that will set them apart from the pack if they’re willing to take some risks.
(two and a half out of five horns)