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Exiled on Earth: The Orwell Legacy

Exiled on Earth put out their debut full-length back in 2009 on Zero Substance Records, an independent company that only put out two releases, and since has basically disappeared. But, it’s only been recently I started hearing about this group thanks to social networking circles. Today, while wrapping up a review and talking to a good friend, I noticed an ad on the right side of the screen. Caving, I went ahead and clicked on it, and was directed to a Reverbnation player on their Facebook page with a good deal of material on it.

But, right off the bat, I was a little ticked off. This was one of those players that required you to hit the “like” button on Facebook in order to hear it. I hate that. Because then if I don’t like your band, I have to actually go out of my way to “unlike” it, even if it is just page down and a click. That’s, like, four seconds of my life right there. I take my “like” list very serious. So, right off the bat I put Exiled on Earth at the top of my expectations list because, if they failed to deliver, I was going to be quite angry over more than just my time being wasted. But, I went into “Maelstrom of Malice,” and immediately I went to hit the eject button on my CD player. Not because it was bad, but because I forgot this was a stream and thought it was a disc skipping with a slight scuff. Actually, that was just a static pattern against a spoken word narrative before the playlist hit me with some interesting Progressive Metal and Power Metal fueled music. This track isn’t anything too spectacular or original, but the material is still done well to capture a bit of a science-fiction vibe, immediately throwing less over-the-top Evergrey and Lyzanxia comparisons in my head before the vocals kicked in. Sadly, this immediately turned me off.

Before I get to anything else, the vocals need to be addressed. It’s your typical clean singing performance you’d expect of a Progressive Metal act, similar to Nevermore in a sense. The main issue is that they often sound horribly off-key, there are lyrics foced together to fit that just don’t, and there’s a layering effect that clashes horribly when used. But, the harsher Thrash styled vocals sound pretty rich and a hell of a lot stronger, being one of the best parts. The entire performance isn’t bad, there’s just plenty of moments that make you cringe. A lot of that clearly does come from the production, which leaves them sounding weak, as well as other parts of the music. The guitars really lack a good bite sometimes, and when the music slows down the whole thing just sounds boring and even empty. The spoken word audio samples on this track are also obnoxiously loud compared to the performances from the band, who is so low in the mix you have to turn the volume up louder, and come the final audio sample you’ll race to turn it back down. So right off the bat there’s a good deal of problems to be had.

From here the songs varied for me. Many of the songs on the playlist stick with a consistant mixture of Power Metal and Progressive Metal, which was a nice plus. One thing that seemed to start forming as a pattern, though luckily only happened twice but became a nagging fear, was having the music slow down a bit before going into a Thrash-driven guitar solo. While it doesn’t show on “Backstabbed,” which I found to be an all around enjoyable track, it does creep up on “Shadowcreed.” This is another good song as well with the production issues taken into consideration. The main issue here was the amount of poorly layered clashing vocals that really seemed to take over much of the first half of the song.

But, “Forgotten Lore” immediately became a game changer for me. The song kicked in with a heavier Thrash input and a little more technical Progressive precision. The bass really showed through here as well, and many of the shifts that happen in the song are executed well. This is actually the first instrumental song on the playlist, and it really shows the talent the group has, and seems to push to the side for the vocals as far as some songs go. “Spiral Damnation,” however, doesn’t quite feel as restrained for the vocals. This one all around just sounds good. The transitions used are all excellent, the music is really enjoyable thanks to it with very few slower sections, the guitar solos are well suiting to the music, and even the vocals work well whether layered or just the single voice approach. It also doesn’t cater to the expected Thrash passage after said solos.

“Who Watches the Watchmen” kinda threw me back to “Maelstrom of Malice.” I didn’t care much for this song largely due to the vocals. Again, they felt weak, clashed where the layering was taken into consideration, and the music itself wasn’t all that great. There were some good Progressive Metal elements and passages I got into, but the slower sections crept back into the mix and just weren’t too interesting. The set closes out with “Seizure of Rationality,” and for the most part it’s a good song like “Backstabbed” and “Spiral Damnation.” There are some bass-heavy moments that really stand out and give it character, and plenty of heavy, faster material. Even the slower passages here are pretty good, though again nothing too astounding.

Basically, the Exiled on Earth playlist is the group’s debut album, The Orwell Legacy, but minus one track. It was great to get to hear it, even if it’s missing one piece. I really do see potential from the band, but at the same time there are plenty of faults. Some of them do seem to stem from the quality of the recording, but there are times where the music is just not that great and the vocals are off. The Orwell Legacy isn’t going to stand out as an album fans of Progressive Metal or Power Metal need to revisit past the first spin, though some songs may pull you back in from time to time. Exiled on Earth is a group that you should still keep an eye on, which I plan to do, simply because I honestly believe a better audio quality will really help the band out for their next recording. But, until then…

*Unlikes*

Social network account brought to my attention by a Facebook advertisement.