Oof. I hate to do this, I really do. Noise Rhetoric are probably a nice bunch of guys, who have worked hard and poured their heart and souls into this, their first full-length release. But dear lord, this is dire. Sounding like The Dillinger Escape Plan if they never escaped their first basement-rehearsal space, Noise Rhetoric will hopefully look back on this as an embarrassing first attempt. They can’t mean to stay this way…can they? It’s the production that guts things from the outset. In the right hands, “All Flats” could have sounded like Born of Osiris. As it stands, it sounds like someone threw a blanket over the drumkit and shot the sound mixer in the face. Mind-bending guitar solos end up buried under the blunt force of the production grinding itself down into your earholes.
The vocals could be strongly improved, both in terms of delivery and production. Jumping from an adequate hardcore growl, Noise Rhetoric try their hand at some of the most overwrought, squeaky yelps this side of Suicide Silence’s “Doris.” It’s not singing in the vein of Pierce the Veil or Asking Alexandria. This is an attempt at intensity that crashes and burns harder than a fish flopping out of a net and into a meat grinder. The aforementioned faulty production thrusts the vocals to the forefront, again hiding the impressive guitar work. A shame, since there’re some great techy riffs in the middle of “Alteration.”
Maybe it’s the mix, but the drums failed to make their mark, sounding at least half a beat behind and turning what should have been arrhythmic prog madness into what sounded to me like an under-rehearsed mess. It would have paid off so much to have spent a bit more time on the recording process, instead of rushing to get this up on Bandcamp.
To recap, that’s subpar production, out-of-sync drumming, and vocals as enjoyable to me as a mosquito buzzing around my head at night. Noise Rhetoric could have received an even harsher score, if it wasn’t for “Three Card Monte.” All of the above problems are still present, but a central section containing a real neck-snapper of a breakdown over immaculate guitar playing represents the only part of Noise Rhetoric that came out as I believe it was supposed to. But I couldn’t make it through the six-minute “Phrasing,” so I’m not sure. Maybe it contained the next stage of metal’s evolution, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Noise Rhetoric have to go back to the drawing board on this one. They have the songs, now they need the patience and the steady hand it takes to harness the chaos. Right now, they sound like they are blundering through the woods when it comes to recording. Take some time, and fix those vocals first.
Written by Max Morin
*edited by Kate Erickson