Careless: Coalition

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Careless: Coalition
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Careless: Coalition
NWOBHM
Self-release
August 8th, 2011
Release length: 49:32
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Careless is one of those surprise gems in the Heavy Metal underground that, unless you’re looking in the right spots, you’ll probably never hear. This heavily NWOBHM influenced group is taking the critics and fans of vintage metal by storm with their self-released debut album Coalition. While the group may still be a fresh contender in the style, they don’t feed into any of today’s staples of what makes “good” Metal. But, does this North American bred band have what it takes to capture what made the NWOBHM style so great in the early days, and what makes it still a fantastic, well-loved style to this day?

While the music here may capture the sound of classic Metal acts, it doesn’t really carry a rawer atmosphere to reflect it, which is great. Coalition isn’t the cleanest recording you’ll come across, but the slightly lo-fi sound does add a bit of atmosphere that works with the less distorted guitars that immediately bring up the fondest memories of early bands of the style. The slightly blunt sound to these chords work well with the somewhat higher bass tones that really take the center stage and play a pivotal role in the music, adding another layer that is both catchy, and demanding the listener to head bang along with the track when it is rightfully deserving. The drums sound a little pushed in the background, but overall their sound is still pretty good. The cymbals aren’t too overbearing, but not drowned out by anything, though the snares sound thick and have a deeper touch to them that can be a little lost in the mix at times. On top of that the bass kicks has a rich, deep thud that really picks up the slack that the higher bass leaves behind. Musically, Coalition sounds great, somewhat modern but still following the recording layout of the style’s forefathers.

But what really completes the package is the vocals. The soothing clean singing that adorns every track works out so well for what the band plays. While there isn’t a lot of range, there are plenty of energetic moments that come through, solidifying a safer performance, but one that you simply can’t walk away from. “Against Stupidity” is one of the few songs to really do something different with the vocals, but that’s thanks to the distortion on them for some of the lyrics that show up here and there. Other than that, the more mellow, yet still highly enjoyable music is met with an equally compatible vocal style, all coming together right from the very start. “Curtains” immediately shows off a love for some of the more grand NWOBHM style acts, such as Iron Maiden, with bass-driven riffs that sound fantastic to lead the guitars along with an energetic vocal performance that add a slight unique element to it that really makes you want to just get up and head bang along to the track immediately with the infectious material. But this track doesn’t even compare to “Boundaries,” which just feels like a commanding, yet somewhat laid back classic Heavy Metal song. The rhythm is simply catchy with a chorus that will stay lodged in your brain for quite a while, and deserving so. The additional science elements that appear towards the end compliment the track and it’s slightly science/science fiction-esque sounding lyrics, and is not the only time these things appear.

While the first two tracks here are a little more energetic, “D.F.M.” really captures an emotional classic Heavy Metal meets Hard Rock track that also comes though a bit laid back in atmosphere. The amplified bass quality of the release really makes this song pop, and the pace of the guitars with the cleaner ones that kick in during the chorus that add to the environment of the song just really make this another experience you won’t soon find leaving your memory, especially given the vocal performance that works with the tone of the music well. The solo here sounds a little less than interesting though, and that’s largely just due to some of the chords sounding wrong, even though they clearly are not, becoming a fault of the distortion being used and the louder audio behind them. But this is about where the album stops feeling like a great nostalgic trip, and starts to show the wear from the group’s safer sound.

There’s no denying that the aforementioned tracks, and many of the others that follow, are worth checking out. But, the problem quickly arises that “Curtains” and “Boundaries” are really the only songs that pack more of an energetic approach to the songs and a stronger grand sense, favoring the safer, laid back sound of the following songs more so. This ends up leaving the album lacking some variety, which does end up causing the music to get a little stagnant after a while. “Blackened Walls of Freedom” makes for another good track that is worth experiencing, as well as “Contend in Vein” with its additional Southern musical influence that creeps in and offers a slightly more unique experience, and many others stand out, but eventually simply grow tiring because there’s nothing too different to them. Really it’s not until “Song 9” that the album throws something a little more dynamically different at the listener. The song actually has a bit of a Progressive Rock touch to it with spoken word dialogue that sounds more like it was recorded in the studio then just a larger sound bite lifted from a film. The dark tone of the song, based on The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe, really helps out and manages to close the album off on a more interesting note then much of the previous material that fills up the release.

Carless does throw some interlude pieces into the mix, but really they don’t do much for the album overall, and often aren’t even that great. “As Time Passes…” gives off a darker, gothic tone to the music presented on the release thanks to some keyboards against an acoustic guitar performance that does tug on the heartstrings a bit, showing off a bit of a Kamelot sound. There’s also “Between the Mayhem,” which is a long bass track that immediately gives off a Les Claypool vibe, but really simple, slow, and very unimpressive, even during the faster notes that do end up eventually played. The last interlude is “5ive,” which is actually a drum track with some additional keyboards in the back, and again it’s just nothing that inspiring, though plays more into the science fiction-esque atmosphere established earlier on.

There’s plenty of positive things to be said about Coalition, but at the same time there’s a good number of negative things that can be brought up too. For as close to vintage Heavy Metal as the band gets, they also play it too safe for too long which causes the music to eventually grow stale. While there’s no reason to not come back to it in the future when you’re more refreshed from it, there are some track you’ll end up wanting to skip including the interlude songs that really don’t serve much purpose to the release whatsoever. All in all, Careless pay homage to the acts that started it all well with this release, and churn out a fine collection of songs that immediately set a nostalgic tone for any listener. But, nostalgia doesn’t make an album good. While the audio quality and great sound of the band and their performance shows a promising act, the lack of any real variety to the music really causes the band to break into an immediate stand still.

01. Curtains – 3:06
02. Boundaries – 4:40
03. D.F.M. – 4:35
04. Out of Control – 3:42
05. As Time Passes… – 2:01
06. Blackened Walls of Freedom – 5:24
07. Against Stupidity – 4:40
08. Between the Mayhem – 2:34
09. The Gods Themselves – 3:45
10. 5ive – 2:12
11. Contend in Vein – 3:59
12. Song 9 – 8:54
Overall Score: 7/10
Careless (Band)
Digital review copy of this release provided by Careless via Clawhammer PR.