Monday, July 25, 2011

Communic - The Bottom Deep

The Bottom Deep
Nuclear Blast Records/Riot! Entertainment/Warner Music Australia

As good as Comunic’s first two releases were (2005’s ‘Conspiracy In Mind’ and 2006’s ‘Waves Of Visual Decay’), I couldn’t help but think that the Norwegian based outfit were nothing more than an inferior clone to U.S. progressive power metal outfit Nevermore.
But with the release of their third album ‘Payment Of Existence’ in 2008, it seemed as though the three-piece act (Comprising of vocalist/guitarist Oddleif Stensland, bassist Erik Mortensen and drummer Tor Atle Andersen) were starting to shed a bit of their similarities to Nevermore, and forge a path that revealed a bit more of their own personality.
Three years since then, and Communic are back with their fourth full-length effort ‘The Bottom Deep’, and I was genuinely looking forward to seeing what the band had to offer.
Conceptually based, deeply personal and retaining the darker and heavier influences that really took a hold of their last album, ‘The Bottom Deep’ is anything but an easy listen, and like any of Communic’s releases, ‘The Bottom Deep’ requires a lot of patience from the listener to really allow the band’s compositions to sink in. But while the band’s former releases have eventually made an impact, there’s something about ‘The Bottom Deep’ that doesn’t stick as steadfast as their former efforts.
The opening track ‘Facing Tomorrow’ is a huge opening number that really does impress from the moment the huge wall of guitars amplify the powerful opening riff. ‘Facing Tomorrow’ is a densely constructed song that brings out a crushing sound from the band, with the only respite coming in the form of the slower choruses, where Stensland’s positively exudes power and emotion.
Slowing down the pace to highlight some of the more atmospheric elements within Communic’s overall sound is the impressive ‘Denial’ and ‘In Silence With My Scars’, while ‘Flood River Blood’ and ‘Voyage Of Discovery’ show a cutting back on the heavier sounds to make way for a little more dynamics, which gives the tunes more variation than some of the other more punishing efforts.
‘Wayward Soul’ is something a little different for the band, with the song’s combination of melodic riffs and choruses balanced out perfectly with the darker themes presented on the lyrical front, while the acoustic based title track ‘The Bottom Deep’ is a decidedly shorter epilogue effort that finishes the album perfectly.
Despite the long list of positives, ‘The Bottom Deep’ does have its drawbacks. The most notable is a problem that has plagued the band for some time, and that’s the general running length of the songs. I’ve got nothing against long tracks, but some of the tracks here seem to drag a little too long without really altering their course, which in turn makes the album feel stretched.
The other is the density of the album overall. I’m all for heaviness, but some of the dynamics and subtleties of the band’s earlier releases have gone by the wayside to make way for that heavier sound, which is disappointing.
Overall, ‘The Bottom Deep’ is a good album, but not quite up to matching ‘Payment Of Existence’. Regardless, fans will no doubt be pleased with Communic’s new offering.

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© Justin Donnelly