Wardingham, Paul: Assimilate Regenerate

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Wardingham, Paul: Assimilate Regenerate
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Paul Wardingham: Assimilate Regenerate
Melodic Death Metal, Progressive Metal
Self-release
February 21st, 2011
Release length: 1:00:03
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Paul Wardingham is venturing out from his previous group, The Collins/Wardingham Project, and striking it out on his own. Enigmatic Records, home to both act, has issued the first of his one-man-only creations, titled Assimilate Regenerate. The concept blends together Melodic Death Metal and Progressive Metal with plenty of astral and Space Rock influences found throughout the recording. But, does this release really stand up as one that is worthy of such high remarks that you seem to find on many Metal-driven websites? Or, is this just a pretentious instrumental ego-trip that isn’t worth a second glance?

Paul handles all the instruments for this recording, and does a good job at it, as well as capturing them in the production. You have the keyboards that come into play more during the chorus and certain atmospheric passages or bridges, being what really gives off the stronger space-fueled environment of the release. These come through well, though are often restricted to the background, which works great and allows the guitars to come through. The audio quality here is pretty sleek and stylish, which gives the guitars a crisp sound, but not enough to effectively lose the bite or emotion coming from them. The leads offer a cleaner distortion during solos, as well as the melodic Progressive chords, and in the back are the slightly heavier, more mechanical riffs that are a nice contrast. The bass is pretty loud in the mix and becomes a stronger supporting block to the foundation, really standing out during the over-the-top lead chords that play on longer than you might want, such as towards the end of “Futureshock,” and giving that higher pitched sound a deeper alliance to keep it from becoming a bit obnoxious. The drums sound great here as well, utilizing a strong, and again mechanical sounding click to the kicks, but also pushed into the mix and sometimes covered up by the other instruments. The snares are even harder to hear much of the time, though have a pretty deep tone with a tighter tuning clearly used. Unfortunately the cymbals don’t fair too well either, not quite packing enough of an impact despite really sticking out the most of the kit, but still doing their job enough to help fill the music.

There’s no denying that Assimilate Regenerate does have a strong Science Fiction vibe to it, which is captured in the production quality quite well. These elements that work towards creating a unique environment are executed nicely, and not always come off as pure showmanship. But, when they are somewhat limited is when the material shines. This is shown off right at the start with the title track “Assimilate Regenerate,” one of the strongest tracks on the recording. The music has a bit of an ominous vibe with the sleek audio quality and Progressive tones to the chords and additional keyboards. The solos never go too far or carry on too long, though there seems to be many different ones to make up for that. The chorus, however, is where things really become memorable. While somewhat traditional to the Melodic Death Metal style, there’s definitely energy you can pick up on, and it suits the overall theme of the recording perfectly. The additional bass presence adds a deeper sound as well that can be immediately picked up, giving it that extra bite. “Ghost in the Machine” is largely the same way, though doesn’t resort to countless short solos, nor does it really focus too much on the keyboards, which really allow the melody to come through a lot stronger, and less cluttered. Of course, the chorus is as addictive and head bang worthy as the last.

“Enter the Metaverse” feels like a much softer track compared to some of the blistering or heavier tracks that are scattered about, which really becomes a relief. The music here is infectious throughout, though there are some sections that seem to take things into a slight Groove direction that engages a little more energy into the final product. There’s also “Mindwarp” to take note of, another song that feels on the lighter side of things, and really grab hold of the Progressive Metal astral atmospheres well, perfectly playing them up with a hint of Progressive Rock here and there that really holds the listeners attention while casting him or her out into another plain. “Orbital Decay” is well worth experiencing too, finding plenty of engaging and beautiful Progressive Metal atmospheres throughout, but with a commanding Melodic Death Metal performance that again feels like some traditional composing at work. It all works together well enough to leave a lasting mark on anyone fortunate enough to hear it though. Instead of using an infectious chorus and more technical chords everywhere else like the first two tracks, and some others afterwards, these just feel like a melodic experience that never alters their own natural flow from start to finish, and even can become an emotional trip that can tug at the heart strings.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and when coupled with extensive track lengths, it can feel like overkill. “Futureshock” is a good song, but at just over six minutes, it becomes a little vexing. The cleaner chords become the focal point, along with atmospheric chords for bridges that set up an astral sense of being, which can become a bit obnoxious. The bass and deeper backing guitars don’t manage to keep it grounded, and as you reach the end it can feel a little drug along, making you wish it would just end. This is also one of those few showmanship moments that do seem the seep in, but in a subtle manner. “Clones” also falls into this category, though it takes on more of a Groove Metal foundation that seems rather simple and horribly extended. A guitar solo will hit to break up the monotony of the simple drawn out riffs, but even then almost all the chords and drums remain the same thing over and over with nothing to really mix up the basic, dull material aside some chaotic moments, as well as a slower, emotional guitar performance. The only other negative thing worth mentioning is that “Assimilate Regenerate” and “Futureshock” seem to end while building up, leaving you to expect a a little more from them in a way you could take or leave, but at the same time not really offering a final closure a recording like this truly needs.

Assimilate Regenerate isn’t a bad release, but the longer songs can really feel like a chore sitting through after a while. Why this album had to clock in at just over an hour is unclear, but had those longer tracks been cut down by even a minute or two, save “Clones” which really coould have been scrapped all together, it would have put the album in the traditional forty to fifty minute range, but also a lot tighter without the loose ends the first two songs seem to offer, and a lot less cluttered. If you happen to be a fan of heavily atmospheric and astral Progressive Metal with the catchy often simplistic approach of Melodic Death Metal, this is definitely something you should sample. It’s a rather unique approach, and aside a few songs still offers a good amount of quality material well worth experiencing, but even just one spin through will show listeners that there is still some room to grow and develop this sound further.

01. Assimilate Regenerate – 6:00
02. Futureshock – 6:09
03. Ghost in the Machine – 5:16
04. Brain Interactive Construct – 4:54
05. Fields of Utopia – 5:54
06. Enter the Metaverse – 5:11
07. Mindwarp – 5:04
08. Clones – 6:25
09. Cyber Warfare – 4:54
10. Orbital Decay – 4:59
11. Black Hole Device – 5:18
Overall Score: 7.5/10

Digital review copy of this release provided by Paul Wardingham.