Musical Digest: Where Giants Once Stood vs The Body Politic
Let’s see what we have here: two melodic metalcore bands releasing a cardboard EP, with a similar cover design, each of them being the second release of the band, the first one being released on September 2nd and the other on September 16th. Let’s try something different and look at these two CDs at the same time.
In the red corner, we have Where Giants Once Stood, a name that resonates big and wide, and a reference to heaviness and gigantism. The young band comes from Toronto, thrash metal capital of Canada, and from the ashes of the scene’s legacy they are ready to build something fresh and new.
In the blue corner, The Body Politic is a name that rightly sounds more intellectual: as a matter of fact, it’s taken from a Clive Barker short story. Hailing from Vancouver Island, the members are proud to admit they shifted from jazz to progressive metal.
Live Above is a four-song EP. Where Giants Once Stood doesn’t go into preliminaries: an EP has a short duration and they don’t want to waste any time showing what they’re capable of. “Living in Secrity” immediately catches the attention with its guitar solo à-la-Unearth and its clean vocals à-la-Avenged Sevenfold during the chorus. This great opener is followed by “Illuminate”, a song that features Threat Signal’s singer (and Live Above Producer) Jon Howard. To my humble opinion, this guest appearance weakens the song more than anything else, as his vocals doesn’t match the power of the band’s own set of vocals needed to carry on the attack. “The Damaged” brings in different influences and techniques–including a great guitar work throughout, and tams-tams and classical guitar at the end–resulting in a brilliant song structure. Last song “Myths, Lies, and Crimes” closes the EP the way it started: a powerful intro reminding me of Heaven Shall Burn, and then throwing in some grand features. Keyboards and bass guitar are particularly interesting on that last song, and they blend very well with the melodic chorus. While WGOS could have imitated their peers and abused breakdowns, they cleverly waited ’til the end of the album before throwing one in, and it’s working pretty well.
With its six songs, Egressor is organized like a short album rather than a promo EP. It starts with “Vitam Agere”, a keyboard-oriented instrumental intro, then switches gear on “Armature”, where vocals come in. One thing that immediately struck me is how much The Body Politic’s music breathes. It is apparent that the band knows how to gage the keyboard, bringing it in only when it adds something to the whole, while balancing technique with efficiency. The 7-strings attack stands out, as well as the mechanical math-grooves and the metronome-articulated songwriting. With its cold beauty, “All Hands” reminded me of Sybreed, aside from the clean vocals chorus. There are highlights for each instruments on this EP, for example drums have a particularly nice routine on “Swing for the Fences”. While The Body Politic sounds and plays exactly like a metalcore band (think about Bring Me the Horizon or Parkway Drive), there is a clear venture on progressive territories and a mix of influences, including Opeth (“Colquoun”) and Dream Theater (“Irradiate”).
When we say melodic metalcore, we immediately think about short hair, shorts, wife beaters, dual vocals (harsh in verses, clean during chorus), a bit of a mathematical writing skill, and a sharp production. That’s pretty much what we have on both releases, except that the guys put a matching t-shirt for the group photo. The production is huge, and the songwriting for both EPs is impressive. On WGOS’s EP, I particularly enjoyed the quality of the drums recording, and the the lead guitars. On TBP’s EP, I liked the compression on the bass drums, and the intelligent use of keyboards.
While WGOS has a more in-your-face approach, sending the infantry first in order to put the listener to fligth, The Body Politic uses its arsenal more strategically, bringing in its cavalry through clever technique. Both EPs are excellent, and despite the distance I would easily see them as a tag team on a tour.
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