Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ascension Of The Watchers - "Numinosum" CD

This is the first proper solo release from former (?) Fear Factory frontman Burton C. Bell, and it manages to move pretty far from the thrashy, electro-tinged death metal of Fear Factory. With John Bechdel (ex-Prong) on most of the musical programming, "Numinosum" is Burton's attempt to show off his more melodic vocals in a more subdued, song-oriented arena. To some degree, it works, but not entirely. Songs like the almost-epic "Evading" are synth-heavy, and almost new-wavey, but not wimpy or fey at all. Think Killing Joke's more 'pop' songs, and you won't be too far off. It's sad, sometimes mellow, and only effective part of the time. "Canon For My Beloved" almost reaches some dizzying heights, but just never quite makes it to these ears. Maybe it's the dated drum sound/programming...maybe it's Bell's limited vocal capacity. I hear a great album from Bell, but this is not the one. I admire his gutsiness in possibly alienating many of his metalhead fans. "Moonshine" is a pretty, shimmery, minor key pop song, for example. Perhaps even more surprising is the group's cover of "The Sounds Of Silence" (yes, that one), which could/should have been catastrophic, but Bell and Bechdel and company keep it faithful and close, and thus this is an unlikely success. Bell's lofty aspirations haven't quite been reached with this unsteady album, but it's a good place to start, and hints at some greatness yet to come. (13th Planet)

The Watchers site

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