For most new, up-and-coming bands, the debut EP is a make or break proposition. Create an amalgam of your influences, nail down a style, and start the march for glory. But for Stony Brook, New York based Prevenge, there is nothing conventional about their approach. Hovering in the middle of a multitude of genres and boasting a wide variety of influences, their debut EP, "Rorscach," could just as easily be renamed "A Tale Of Two Bands." With six tracks, only two of which contain vocals, you are treated to a bizarre Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of progressive elements and core essentials. And much like the visual test for which it is named, this offering is open for interpretation, for better or worse.
The identity crisis begins with the bombastic, minute and a half "Bound By Fate." Despite a disjointed and wildly inaccurate intro, the track does gain some semblance of cohesion in the latter stages, with guitar scales a plenty, all played at a fever pace. It runs head first into "The Despair Embodied," a evil instrumental that seems to capture the band at their best. With two guitars tangled into one, you get an added depth of sound that helps move things along. But much like before, there are hits and misses scattered throughout the track. The verse sections are well played and well conceived, while the breakdown is about as out there as can be. What is amazing is how a period of off timed guitar chugging can switch over to a bluesy riff so easily, leaving you scratching your head. But it is the outro that best represents the track on the whole, devolving into chaos. The spoken word portion that begins "Aglaophotis," a nod to the Silent Hill series, sets a mood for the track that comes. But where that portion ends and the music begins, there is a disconnect that overshadows nearly everything. It is the drumming that stands alone, fast paced and furious. It is only when things slow to a soothing crawl that you get a few memorable moments to digest. Clean guitars build to distorted ones, finally giving rise to more accessible musicianship.
One of the two tracks with a dedicated vocal line, "Lazarus Syndrome" is either the reason you'd want this band to remain voiceless, or the reason you will continue to follow them. With a deep growl that seems to coat everything in a crusty layer of filth, things take a turn for the simplistic, choosing heavy over complete in the verse sections. It does, however, provide a bit of contrast when you compare the sound in those vocal heavy sections with the free instrumentals. After the final guttural scream fades, the clean guitars of "A Journey Far, Far to the North" echo into place. Hidden inside five plus minutes here is a well composed piece of progressive metal. It isn't perfect, but there is a common theme that ties most of the movements together. The only drawback comes later in the track when songwriting gives way to some ill conceived shredding. It robs some of the momentum that had been gathered; momentum which, until this point, had been sorely lacking. By the time "Zephyr" fades in, the transformation to metalcore band is complete, resorting to dense chugging and constant double kicks to drive an otherwise flat track. The appearance of electronic elements is a pleasant surprise, albeit sparing in use. After a short, but calming interlude, chaos reigns supreme.
In their quest to defy genre tagging, Prevenge can claim a convincing victory. However, that alone does not make a band, nor an album, work. It's as though they are leading a double life; cohesive prog metal act by day, hyperactive shred band by night. Despite all of their audible flaws, there are enough bright spots to make you want to give them another chance to make it work. This isn't the proverbial "train wreck" scenario we have all experienced where it is so bad that you simply can't look away. Instead, the more you listen, the more the album changes and morphs into something completely different. Whether that change is a good or bad one is completely up to you. But if a doctor showed me this album cover, I see an EP that is confused but bright.
Bandcamp - http://prevengemetal.bandcamp.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/prevenge