Album Review: Final Surrender – Empty Graves
Fusion with Christian metalcore doesn’t exactly work for this Bengaluru band
Originally due in April, Bengaluru metalcore band Final Surrender’s second full-length, Empty Graves, sounds like it was created first as a pure metalcore album with heavy breakdowns, gang choruses and melodic leads included. The Indian Classical parts seem like a hurried afterthought. The album sticks to drummer Jared Sandhy’s description back in February: “It’s like listening to two different parts; there’s just a bridge between the two genres. If you pull out the Indian parts, it’s still metalcore. You will hear melodic sitar swaras but also blast beats and breakdowns.”
It’s as simple as removing and adding layers to a track. But the album comes across as a copy-paste job at times, when some fusion parts just don’t gel with the metal, like on their first single “Refresh.” It works rather brilliantly, though, on tracks like “Egosnakehead,” where we’re treated to a sitar solo from Bengaluru-based sitar player Suma Rani during a dissonant breakdown. There’s also the sarangi courtesy Bengaluru-based Ustad Faiyaz Khan playing over choruses on this track. Producer Rocky Gray [former drummer of American alt rock band Evanescence] seems to take each song on a trial-and-error basis, getting better at fixing the track levels on “Not Done Yet.” Unless you’re listening in on headphones, you might just think the Hindustani classical vocals were being sampled.
But Final Surrender definitely sound better on “Sin Beyond Skin” delivering a crushing performance minus the Hindustani vocal and instrumental parts. Unsurprisingly, Hindustani vocal harmonies can’t level it out with vocalist Joseph Samuel’s monster growl. The band also enlisted the Cochin Chamber Orchestra to go the symphonic metal way on “Satori,” “Evolve’ and the mostly-instrumental “House of Cards,” where they fare much better compared to their hit-or-miss Indian fusion tracks.
The rest of the 12-track album, the follow-up to Final Surrender’s debut 2010 album Expanse, begins to bore until the penultimate track “Monkey The Dog,” which ticks all the boxes for metal fans, fusion fans and closes with a Bible verse to make sure you know what they’re talking about. The Christian element to their music isn’t off-putting since they are growled most of the time. Amen to that.
Key tracks: “Egosnakehead,” “Sin Beyond Skin,” “Monkey The Dog.”
Empty Graves is out on November 5th on Rottweiler Records. Pre-order here.
Final Surrender perform alongside Demonic Resurrection and Theorized at CounterCulture, Bengaluru on November 3rd, 2013. Entry: Rs 400. Event details here.
Listen to the teaser for Empty Graves below