First let's talk breakdowns. The metalcore genre has been criticized for beating breakdowns to death, and I have read many reviews of many metalcore releases in which the reviewer complains about there being too many breakdowns. The guys in Auckenrose remind us all that breakdowns are not necessarily a bad thing - there are plenty of breakdowns and instrumetal sections on this release... and they don't suck! They're groovy, catchy, and headbanging-inspiring, and some of them are even a bit wacky (just check out the funky cowbell accompanied outro of "Cognitive Dissonance"). This is truly original music, and Auckenrose have really revived metalcore with their innovative approach and total disrespect of genre boundaries. So, thank you, Auckenrose, for showing the world that breakdowns can still be awesome.
Anyway, the overall approach on this EP is very eclectic and, although the base seems to be breakdown-ladden (we've already discussed this) and heavily groovy metalcore, Auckenrose takes us on a dark musical journey across many genrescapes, combining aggressive thrash metal sections with melancholic 90s-style alternative rock sections, and even some gothic doom metal riffage (as in "Exhale Silence"), throwing in some progressive and wonderfully wacky stuff, such as the said funky outro and a jazzy interlude in the same track (well, it sounds like Primus playing jazz), and the grindcore fans will be pleased to know that there are a couple of blastbeat sections, too (which are prominent in the "Archaea" - a track that also contains one of the most kick-ass breakdowns ever). All the heavy stuff is interrupted by mellow but still dark clean-guitar interludes, which both adds an interesting contrast, but also fits the dark atmosphere like a glove.
I pretty much like this release as it is, with one exception - and this does not have to do with the production, which is good enough for me. To be honest, I miss guitar solos and lead guitars, and I think that these would really have added a further dimension of melody and provided that last bit of variation that would have taken this EP right up to the top.
In all, this is a very impressive first release, and - along with Trusted Few and White Walls - one of the best newcoming progressive metalcore-oriented acts I have heard recently. If you're into metal for the thinking person, you should check this out.
(review originally posted at metalmusicarchives.com)