Clandestine: The Invalid

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Clandestine: The Invalid
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Clandestine: The Invalid
Electronica, Progressive Metal, Progressive Rock
Nightmare Records
February 15th, 2011
Release length: 45:37
Website
We’ve all walked into a CD retail chain at one point in our lives to loiter or pick up a new CD. We’ve all heard a song blast through the speakers that sounds so heavy and so catchy you can’t help but lift your head and look at the stereo or TV in hopes to find out what’s playing. We’ve all felt the disgust of that insane heavy “I wanna punch the nearest person in the face” introduction give way to the whiniest of Emo music and wanted to start smashing everything in sight like the Incredible Hulk for being tricked. If not, then get ready to feel that way. Clandrestine is a pretty strong blend of Progressive Metal and Electronica that is both captivating, and infuriating. Five years after the band’s debut EP, they bring us their full-length debut, The Invalid, and it’s truly something…

There have been many CDs to hit the inbox, but this is the biggest cocktease to ever happen my way. This female fronted band from Los Angeles clearly has the balls to create some heavy sounding Metal that is catchy as it is Progressive with ties to bands such as Tool and Dream Theater, but takes that Progressive sound that is full of intensity and waters it down quickly with Evanescence sounding female fronted Gothic Rock/Alternative Rock. While it’s not bad, it’s infuriating as your blood pumps at the start of the song as the music roars into high speed, the intensity builds up, the vocalist lets out her most primal scream, you reach the point where it’s about to break in and you want to break out, only to get a slow paced song that is the polar opposite of what you heard with beautiful clean vocals and slow tempo matched with simple riffs that are atmospheric, never to reach that level of intensity the song started without outside maybe a random breakdown or a closing. It’s even more irritating at the fact that this is how they start the album, sans the screaming which appears on the next track, “Disappear in You” in both the opening and closing, and it’s honestly enough to make you rip the CD out of the player and snap it in half like I did by the end of the second song, even though I knew full well this promo came in MP3 format.

So, aside the insanely infuriating and horribly orchestrated transitions that make absolutely no sense whatsoever, how is the album overall? Well, the band has talent, and it’s clear. The Invalid is far from a bad album, and in fact is very catchy. The music here carries a more mainstream Gothic atmosphere then anything, utilizing keyboards more to give it a futuristic, shiny, stylish feel, and it works well when placed against the beautiful female vocals that have a fantastic range amidst the innocent atmosphere they give off. When she screams, it’s primal and sounds rather gutteral, baring the rage of something Otep or Light This City fans would be proud of, and it’s really disheartening that they are barely ever used, focusing solely on the clean singing. “Disappear in You” is the first track to introduce the non-clean singing style, but “Philistine” is the first to really expand on it. The music for the song comes off a little darker, sometimes pushing a very slight Gothic Operatic approach when it really builds up in the chorus, and she manages to work a whaspier scream into that same chorus, but even then her rougher vocals are kept at the most extreme minimal, even when the groovey Prorigressive music let’s her, instead resorting to a more nasally and sinister approach in the background at a lower volume and distorted.

For the most part, the album loses it’s heavier tendencies around “Philistine”, and the rest comes off more as typical Progressive Rock material mixed with Alternative Rock. The lighter approach really makes the band more accessable, but that’s about it. The female vocals really wind up saving it, as do the futuristic keyboards that add some new ambience without completely taking over the album like some bands will let happen. Out of all the songs, “Phantom Pain” is one of the more interesting tracks, as it takes the music is an different direction. For the most part, the song goes at a very slow pace and is more reliant on the keyboards for the music for much of the song, but they are meerly used behind the clean singing. Sadly, while it’s nice, it feels like it takes forever to finally build into the actually song, which chimes in way too abruptly, but saves the song somewhat as the slower start of the track really does become boring. The keyboards and voice are great, but not enough to carry a track all by themselves like the band hoped for this clearly Meatloaf song progression inspired track. Sadly the same kind of concept is used for the title track “The Invalid”, but the intro is absolutely boring, which is enhanced by the fact that we just heard the keyboard/singing only thing two minutes ago, and as an intro to boot. The song hammers into heavier material, and the music is good, the vocals work for it, and the screaming kicks in again, all of which saves the song, but again the transition is not good, though at least this time there was one.

Clandestine‘s debut album is impressive, but doesn’t quite seem to know what it wants to be. At times it shows it’s teeth to be a monster of a metal act, then seems to abruptly change gears, as if it realizes it was showing a heavier side and decided to slow down and become more accessable. Whiel not a bad able, those leaps like that lack any proper transitions and are insanely abruptly, which will only infuriate new listeners, and chances are good even the die hard fans of the band. This seems to be a typical thing for bands that perform more Alternative or even Emo stuff, though the latter clearly is nowhere to be found on this release, and is a growing problem with bands trying to add an edge. The Progressive elements on this recording are fantastic, but the heavier, faster tracks here are the ones that shine through, as the slower ones become more open and generic, leaving a lot to be desired since the two important aspects of this band, being the female vocals and keyboards, simply are not performed well enough to carry the tracks themselves. That being said, if you tack on the generic music at times and the aggrivation of no transitions, the album becomes a recipe for beauty and over the counter migrain medications. The Invalid is well worth checking out, especially if you happen to be a fan of Evanescence and/or Tool, just be prepared for some of the worst jumps in temp and intensity you’ll ever hear.

01. Fearless – 4:48
02. Disappear in You – 4:30
03. Silent Sin – 4:38
04. Philistine – 3:52
05. Pretend – 4:27
06. Fracture – 3:48
07. Dead to the World – 4:02
08. Phantom Pain – 5:01
09. The Invalid – 5:36
10. Comatose – 4:55
Overall Score: 7/10
Clandestine (Band)Digital review copy of this release provided by Nightmare Records.