Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Album Review: Quor - Human Paradigm

I'm starting to think that maybe I'm too hard on the 'mainstream rock' scene. While there is still the disgusting success of bands like Five Finger Death Punch that make me weep, there is actually some hope out there. This year has seen a very solid album from the new 'supergroup' Saint Asonia make a decent impact, and now Ghost has managed a top ten album. That alone tells me that the mainstream of rock doesn't have to pander to the lowest common denominator in order to succeed. While the scene isn't going to revert back to the old days, the ones I remember, where bands didn't have to have a sense of absurd macho roid-rage in order to be taken seriously, but there is some hope.

QUOR is introducing themselves with this, a debut album that collects tracks from their earlier EP. Having missed out on that, this is also my first exposure to the band. What do they have to offer?

"The Silence And The Spark" starts us off with a big, heavy riff played with a guitar tone that heaps on plenty of distortion. They're definitely going for something huge, although I often think that the opposite is how to actually make guitars sound beefier. The song reminds me of a song from Metallica's "Load", but played with the production of their 80s records. The vocal tone alternates between screaming and a Hetfield-esque shouted singing. The riffs are ok, and the chorus tries to be melodic, but the hook isn't polished enough to really stand out.

"When The Gods Speak" changes things up in the vocal department, as the bouncy riff segues into a verse that sounds like it could have come off a Volbeat album. And if you know what I'm saying, that's not exactly a good thing, since it's inexplicable how Volbeat is able to get away with it. The chorus, though, is solid, which really glues the whole thing together. It's a bit odd, but it's a pretty good song.

Through the rest of the tracks here, we get much of the same. The riffing is the standard modern rock tropes, and the vocals add a hint of strain to cleaner tones. The problem with all of these songs is that they simply aren't sharp enough. There's nothing egregiously bad about them, but there is also little that's memorable. There's a reason why modern rock gets called faceless, and it's because the chugging guitars never play anything that can be easily recalled by a listener. That's the case here, since while the songs are fine to listen to, I can't recall a riff from the record. That might be ok if the melodies were strong enough, but like a lot of bands finding their way, they need to be more finely honed before they turn these songs into killing machines.

A lot of young bands fall into this category, and Quor is no different. There are signs of optimism on this record, but it's a raw, embryonic document of who Quor are. Experience will help them develop their songwriting and their identity, but for now, "Human Paradigm" is merely a rough sketch of the future.

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