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Basick Records has been laying out a sublime roster of fresh, young progressive metal for the next generation and on March 17,2014, they will release Thrones by Chicago's Alaya. For those who have grown tired of the "no-clean-singing" trend, Thrones is a cohesive, rhythmic and mature full-length debut complete with memorable chorus hooks and sinewy guitar melodies.
The earliest moment of awesome occurs just seconds into "Inside." The thrasy, technical guitar lick that opens the track is soon combined with the rhythm section; initially that lick sounds like something from a European power metal band but once the drums and bass kick in with the half-time feel and immediately I was bobbing my head with funk-face approval.
Vocalist/Guitarist Evan Graham Dunn has a vocal range toward the higher end yet never goes beyond an authentic-sounding delivery. His voice reminds me of a slightly-rougher version of Dave Clemmons from Damn the Machine (if you don't own Damn The Machine's self-titled release, featuring ex-Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland, you really should remedy that – super underrated song-oriented progressive metal).
These tracks never outlast their welcome but have enough variety within to keep one occupied and eager. The bass and drum rhythm section are curiously tight. There are a few blast-beats, lots of syncopation between the rhythm guitar and double bass, but yes, the careless could dismiss this as just another djent band. What a crime that would be.
"Sleep" has fantastic guitar harmonies as well as vocal harmonies. The studio likes Alaya plenty and one can tell the care and precision that went into Thrones.
"Haunted Pt. I" provides a mid-disc refreshment with a short track featuring multiple acoustics played over samples and is reminiscent of Fates Warning's acoustic excursions.
Punchy bass can be heard during "Grace" along with many other places on this CD; headphones provided the best listening experience for me. More samples underneath the metal provide a sound bridge to the next track "Day of the Dead" which features a slower rhythm and the inclusion of piano. Also of note are the delayed, harmonized guitar licks toward the end of the track.
"Thrones" has some actual guitar chords as opposed to only djenty rhythms!
"Haunted Pt. II" starts with the samples previously featured on Pt. I and contains beautiful vocal harmonizing plus piano accompaniment. "Haunted Pt. III" starts directly after and uses the same chord progressions, piano, samples, and tiered vocal harmonies but adds the metal and caps off a fantastic disc. This track hammers home what thoughtful songs Alaya can write. The production is top notch. At first I thought the vocals were too far out front and but the more I listened I realized they are right where they need to be.
If you want some new, energetic, and syncopated metal with clean vocals then Alaya is for you. If you like heavy songs that reveal more with each listen (without having to be a music doctor) then pick up Thrones and thank Basick Records for making this possible.
2. White Noise
4. Screaming Still
5. Pool Gloria
6. Haunted Pt. I
8. Day of the Dead
12. Haunted Pt. II
13. Haunted Pt. III
Added: March 3rd 2014
Reviewer: Ryan Good
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
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