4.5 / 10
Okay, first review on Bucketlist. Got to set the right tone… what to do? Maybe I’ll start with some background. I am (ashamedly) from the United States, and not from any of the “big places”. I also grew up in the 80 – 90s. Though it might not seem like it, those are pretty important facts for this review. So just keep those in mind.
The album itself is a self-purported “groove metal” album, and though I can see how someone could classify it like that with the thicker guitar parts and occasional growling vocals, more accurately, its akin to a heavier grunge band. In fact, I can get even more specific about the type of grunge band I’m referring to.
Remember that whole bit about growing up in a small town in the 80 – 90s in the States? Well, because of that I got to hear many bands’ first record from my small area of the country, and let me tell you, this record is exactly like all of those.
From the cover art down to the lyric themes of being an outsider (“You Don’t Know Jack,” “Sinner”), commentary on how money controls everything (“God Complex”) and how “powers in charge” lie to you (“The Grey Matter”), it represents a lot of what one would come to expect from the first record from a band. Solid, yet not exemplary musical work, typically constructed songs, in a typically constructed order that feels a bit paint-by-number. It even captures that 90s band vibe vocally, as if the lead singer (Cameron Frechette) is trying to emulate popular vocal styles he grew up listening to, specifically that of the traditional heavy metal or hair metal vocals of the decade prior.
But this isn’t to say the album is bad. “God Complex” kicks it off strong with a punchy song that lasts just as long as it needs to, and it pairs well with the following track “Made of Stone”, which highlights more of the melodic elements of the band.
From here on out though, the record begins to get a bit samey, switching between the more direct and more melodic songs for the remainder of the record, with the exception of “The Viscera Enigma” which is able to provide the best of both worlds and the most interesting guitar work on offer.
This brings me to the largest issue with this record and that is, hands down, the mixing of the songs.
For a band that’s trying to capitalize on a “groove metal” sound, this record is unbearably thin sounding. All of the chunky riffs, prominent bass, and boomy drums that should be punctuating the record, as a “groove” descriptor would imply, are pushed into the background in favor of jacking up the treble. Even the vocals, whether they be clean or more growling, are subdued and fail to have the ability to grab your attention. Could these issues be because they couldn’t get into a studio and do the recording with higher quality equipment during lockdown? From reading an interview with Joe Huls, the bassist of the band, that is a possibility, though of course, I can’t rule out some sort of stylistic choice on the matter. Regardless, it does the album a HUGE disservice and makes me think this is more a “demo” than an album being released.
In short, this record is a fine first attempt but really needs to be a bit bolder and needs at least one more pass on the mix if not a re-record.
Written by Andrew Wieler
*Edited by Dominic Abate