Core Device - Our fellowship eternal 4/5

Reviewed: 1-21-05





Tracklist:

1. Shadows mind
2. Our fellowship eternal
3. Forgetting
4. Hell and torment
5. Stranger
6. Green water
7. One path
8. Unknown tears
9. God and man
10. Burning away
11. Torn from within


Hailing from New Jersey, Core Device offer a refreshing alternative to the standard (albeit much-beloved) European power metal fare that typically dominates my home stereo system. Perhaps the best way to characterize their diverse, compelling sound would be dark power metal, but that tag doesn't really do Core Device justice. Inevitably, there will be comparisons to Nevermore, largely due to the striking similarity between singer Daniel Dunphy's clean voice and the lower register of Warrel Dane; However, I fear that comparison could be misleading as well, as Core Device are far more traditional and melodic at their core than the downtuned aggro stylings of their Seattle brethren. I know plenty of power metalheads who loathe Nevermore, but whom I think would go bananas over Core Device if given the chance.

So what do Core Device sound like? Well, the riffs are crunchy, thick and muscular, and unquestionably American, but the licks and lead guitar work are fluid, melodic and tasty, much more akin to the European school of shredding (just listen to the harmony guitars rip through the title track to see what I mean). The rhythm section is versatile, able to bludgeon the listener over the head one minute while boggling the mind with intricate drum fills and bass lines the next. The songwriting wraps instantly memorable choruses and melodies around twisting, turning, almost progressive song structures. And then there's the voice. Dunphy is a remarkably expressive singer, able to convey feelings of melancholia, wistfulness and despair at will. But Dunphy is not content to rest exclusively on his clean voice, offering up an occasional growl, a delicate falsetto croon that I could have sworn was a female voice, and even a Dani Filth-esque screech from time to time. To be honest, the schizophrenic vocal styles are a bit disconcerting. I wish Dunphy would rely on his outstanding "normal" voice 100% of the time, but I cannot fault him for trying to push the envelope.

Given this disparate stew of seemingly incongruous elements and the impossibility of pigeonholing Core Device into a neat category, it is small wonder that certain reviewers have scratched their heads over this CD. Personally, I was quickly converted by the fantastic songs and passionate performances on 'Our fellowship eternal'. Standout cuts include the opening salvo of "Shadows mind" (whose chorus was firmly imprinted on my brain the first time I heard it), the crushing but catchy "Burning away", the thrashy yet melodic title track, and the plaintive doomy ballad "Stranger" (with heartrending lyrics about watching a loved one descend into the haze of Alzheimer's Disease). Only "One path" misses the mark, sounding a bit like Annihilator's "Knight jumps queen" with way too many growls. Overall, Core Device turn in a spellbinding, adventuresome, and mature piece of work. They may not cater to the trends, but these gents richly deserve labels' attention and a solid distribution deal, pronto. With a little more seasoning and perhaps a bit of help in the producer's chair, it's scary to think how good this band's next offering might be.



KIT




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