System Divide: The Conscious Sedation
A Fantastic Modern Metal Debut!
Every now and again a new band comes around that really blows your mind! Rising from the ashes of various metal bands (most notably Distorted and Aborted), System Divide does precisely that. Between brutal death metal riffing, beautiful choruses, unforgiving complexity, and a surprising level of accessibility, System Divide will surely make an impact on the metal scene with this 2010 debut. At its surface, The Conscious Sedation is a somewhat typical, albeit enjoyable, melodic death metal album, but more listens will prove that wrong. System Divide is a very eclectic band, and although they are firmly rooted in melodic death metal, they aren't afraid to wear metalcore, prog, goth metal, and symphonic influences on their sleeve. After my remarkably positive first listen, I found myself enjoying The Conscious Sedation even more after each consecutive spin.
As mentioned, the music on The Conscious Sedation is a hybrid of melodic death metal, prog, symphonic metal, gothic metal, and metalcore. I even occasionally hear some power metal influence in System Divide's sound. Although System Divide isn't the first to blend these genres together, they are one of the few acts who can do it this seamlessly. One thing that System Divide does have that few melodeath bands can claim is a female vocalist, Miri Milman (Distorted, Orphaned Land). Her voice is fantastic, and adds a lot of diversity into System Divide's sound. I don't think I'd enjoy this album nearly as much without her presence. It's also worth noting that there is quite a bit of keyboards in System Divide's music. I personally love it, and I think it adds another layer of depth, but it's an acquired taste.
Of the 11 tracks on The Conscious Sedation, System Divide has managed to make all of them extremely memorable, while still maintaining a great sense of depth - something few bands can do. Although many of the songs follow a similar formula (mostly in terms of the vocals), it never gets predictable or boring. All of the songs here can be considered highlights in my opinion. My favorite song is (very narrowly) "(N)ether", but it's a tough call. This album is "all killer, no filler" in my opinion.
The musicians of System Divide are great. They're a very tight playing unit, perfectly able to keep up with multiple time signature shifts and riff changes. Of the four instrumentalists, Mike Heller on drums really takes the cake for me. His playing is simply fantastic, and he is quite the monster behind the kit. I have an infinite respect for his double-bass playing madness. Although the instrumentalists are all great, this album is mostly vocal-oriented. Luckily for us, both vocalists in System Divide are terrific. The tradeoffs between Sven de Caluwť's growled madness and Miri Milman's beautiful pipes works perfectly. Coincidentally, the two vocalists of System Divide are married!
The production is great, although a bit of an acquired taste. It's a bit too polished for my liking, but it sounds very professional nonetheless. I especially love the mix on The Conscious Sedation. Every instrument is at the perfect volume level. Still, if you like a very pure sound in your extreme metal, this could create a problem.
The Conscious Sedation is a terrific debut by System Divide, and I simply can't wait to hear where this band goes in the future. If you are at all interested in progressive/symphonic melodic death metal, this album should be high on your list of upcoming 2010 releases. Although the overall polish on the album may infuriate death metal purists, any metalhead with an open mind should be in heaven with this release. A 4 star rating is well deserved for this fantastic debut.
1. Vagaries Of Perception (3:48)
2. An Intoxicating Affair (3:12)
3. Echoes (4:33)
4. The Apex Doctrine (3:27)
5. Lethargy (3:46)
6. (n)Ether (4:26)
7. Hollow (3:58)
8. Purity In Imperfection (4:13)
9. Repent/Forget (4:33)
10. The Conscious Sedation (3:37)
11. Stagnant Progression (7:00)
Total Time: 46:33
Added: August 23rd 2010
Reviewer: Jeff B
Related Link: Band MySpace Page
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