Monday, 27 February 2012

Review: Primal Rock Rebellion - Awoken Broken

 Though the news of the collaboration has been around for some time now, the thought of a collaboration between Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith and former SikTh frontman Mikee Goodman is still pretty unreal. When I first heard SikTh and their juddering complex intense rush of metal, the only other group I could really think to compare them to were German technical death metal masters Necrophagist. The combination of that style with Maiden's more streamlined and powerful traditional heavy metal seemed unrealistic and just odd. But of course, to assume that supergroups are created only to bring together the respective styles of each other's bands is a stupid thing to do, and so Smith and Goodman's collaborative project Primal Rock Rebellion is something that really shows the pair stepping out of their comfort zones and trying something a little different, and genuinely awesome.

 Smith is without a doubt the musically most active of all six Maiden members and has formed various side projects in the past including groups that have specialized in more progressive territory, but never has anything that either of the groups members done anything that sounds so atmospheric and epic in it's structure and soundscaping. Primal Rock Rebellion's debut (and possibly only) release Awoken Broken succeeds in doing what every collaborative project should strive to do in that Smith's massive melodic riffs are instantly recognizable of the heaviest work of Iron Maiden, while Goodman's wild screeching vocals are reminiscent of SikTh at their most vicious but these musical featured are used in a way that is very different to their full-time groups. Tracks like No Friendly Neighbour and No Place Like Home have something of an industrial influence which the primary features of these musicians succeed in fitting into effortlessly, the same can be said for the layers of atmospheric sound and textures that give tracks like I See Lights and Tortured Tone that extra spacey progressive metal brilliance. It's certainly got the kind of sound you'd expect to hear floating around on the twisted collection of albums that was the Devin Townsend Project.
 And this buildup of atmosphere is what really kicks Awoken Broken into action as every moment manages to be very alive, exciting and well, downright weird at times. In a good way of course. But this skill makes Savage World and Search For Bliss songs that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Similarly, the albums title track and the dreamy "storytelling?" track Snake Ladders are packed with glorious weirdness derived mainly from Goodman's versatile vocal performance which are frequently thrilling. And when looking at the weirder aspects of the album even the forty-seven second interlude As Tears Come Falling From the Sky deserves praise for the fact that it is just... so completely mental. Listening to the entire album is worth it for that amongst many other things.
 So, Awoken Broken is an album that sees the minds of two different spectrums of metal come together and exchange various ideas and using them to do something a little more off-the-wall and not so predictable. There's a good chance it won't appeal to many Maiden fans since the powerful wailing of Bruce Dickinson has been replaced with an array of screeching and growling and fans of SikTh may find the lack of complex time signature switches and more work in creating atmospheric backdrops to be something of a disappointment, but the sense of excitement and racing adventure seen in the actual music itself as well as the experimental craze seen throughout is enough to make this album a dynamic fresh and awe-inspiring listen.

 Primal Rock Rebellion's Awoken Broken is out now via Spinefarm.

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