From time to time, we shine the spotlight on a SoundGym member by reviewing one of their releases for our Music Spot feature.In this review, we cast our eye over SoundGym member Paul Allain’s band Eight Lives Down and their album Humans.
Eight Lives Down are a four-piece, progressive extreme metal band currently based across Croatia, the UK, the Netherlands and Spain. Allain is the band’s guitarist, playing alongside Marcin Orczyk on bass, Rodrigo Moraes Cruz on drums and Aliki Katriou on vocals.
Humans is rooted in thrash metal, and this genre is the starting point for many of the tracks on the album; noticeable in the dry production style as well as in the style of playing and guitar tones.
However, the band frequently depart from this style in wildly creative ways. They branch into other genres of metal; groove, death and black metal all make appearances, as do other genres such as folk and blues.
The longer tracks on the album, ‘From the Cradle’ and nine-minute closer, ‘Why’ both showcase Eight Lives Down’s genre straddling capabilities; each of these tracks effortlessly segues from one style to another multiple times.
The musicianship on the album is excellent; Allain’s guitar playing is extremely technical and always does what it needs to in order to service the song. At times delicate, at times brutal, the range and depth of the band owes a great deal to the versatility of this playing.
The rhythm section of Orczyk and Cruz is solid but supple, and the fact that the shifts in tempo and genre don’t feel forced is in large part down to their fluid playing. In addition, Orczyk’s bass is at times the melodic heart of the music.
Katriou’s vocals, however are in many ways the star of the show. A terrifically versatile performer whose singing ranges from the intimate to the operatic to the guttural, often within the space of the same song.
She is capable of bringing immense power when needed but has the dynamism and creativity to match the band’s most delicate moments too.
The lyricism here is also dense and interesting. Humans is a concept album of sorts, exploring different aspects of the human condition throughout its runtime.
The narrative perspective often changes multiple times within one song and this is reflected in the musical shifts that the band handle so adeptly; anger, fear and confusion are all represented musically when they are represented lyrically and the shifts in vocal timbre frequently accentuate this.
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