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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Review: Take Over And Destroy - Vacant Face


Before you read this review I’d like you to think about this for a minute: ‘An American Rock & Roll band from the 1970's trapped inside of a Scandinavian Metal band from the early 1990's, scoring a John Carpenter film.’

This is the one-sentence biography the six boys from Take Over And Destroy introduce themselves with. One could be forgiven for wondering what in the world that would make their music sound like, but the truth is that every more or less twisted idea you come up with suits. The last decades more and more genres, sub-genres and even sub-sub-genres were invented in the world of metal apparently because every single band needs a label. A load of nonsense if you ask me, and by the sound of it, Take Over And Destroy agree with me. There’s bands that stick to one genre, there’s bands that can be placed in two or three, but these guys tick boxes in half a dozen genres, making their type of music impossible to name. Of course there are some resemblances, but since they vary from, say, Enslaved to H.I.M. and anything in between, there is absolutely nothing to conclude from that. And if you ask me, that is just as well.

The intro of opener ‘Vacant Face’ would do well as the intro of, indeed, a John Carpenter horror movie, immediately making clear they were not lying in their biography. The slow, somewhat haunting melody doesn’t last long, however. Before long the intro develops into a full-blown metal song with catchy riffs and a growling Andrew Leemont in the leading role. From there on Take Over And Destroy takes you on a musical journey across a huge variety of styles. From the blackened death metal in ‘Glance Away’ and 'Dominance Shifts’ via the more thrashy ‘Split Screen’ to the classic heavy metal in ‘Deep End’ and ‘Battle Moon’, they have all metal bases covered.

They don’t stick to metal alone, though, they seem to feel equally comfortable playing different types of rock, where gothic rock is the most strikingly present. The songs ‘Terminal Burrowing’ and ‘Where Seasons Lay’ are very distinctly gothic oriented. The dark atmosphere, the at times sluggish pace, they’re all elements a good gothic song needs. In fact, I’m pretty sure ‘Where Seasons Lay’ is a song Ville Valo would love to have on one of his H.I.M. albums even though Andrew’s vocals are darker than his.

In every song on this album two or more different styles are merged into strong, varied compositions where all instruments play an equally important role. Alex Bank Rollins and Nate Garrett, the band’s guitarists, are gifted with the necessary skill to get them through the often complicated songs. You might think the lack of solos would be a bad thing, but in fact I didn’t miss them at all. There’s more than enough to listen to as it is and that is definitely meant to be something positive. The rhythm section is clearly present, yet it never dominates the sound. I’m especially charmed by drummer Jason Tomaszewski, but Pete Porter’s bass work is solid as well. Added to this already impressive sound are Porter’s keys that sometimes make you feel the urge to look over your shoulder. Although it’s evident horror movies were the influence here, clearly a lot of thought has been put into the timing, place and intensity of these arrangements. To top it off, there’s singer Andrew who is equally at ease when growling and screaming as he is when he impersonates a preaching lunatic priest in Marilyn Manson fashion.

Judging by this album, Pulverized Records has a true gem among their ranks. Take Over And Destroy is a band with skilled musicians, capable of composing impressive songs in a wide variety of styles. Despite this variety ‘Vacant Face’ is an impressive, coherent album that is entertaining from the first note right to the epic diptych at the end of the album in which they combine all genres. Had they written the music to the Carpenter movies I’m sure I’d have enjoyed those movies a lot more. John, offer these guys a contract for your next movie!

Written by Henric van Essen

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