CD REVIEW: Dejection - 'Untitled'
By Steve Allat - 05/20/2004 - 03:19 AM EDT
Label: Independent - Matchbox Records
For Fans Of: Metallica, System of a Down, Limp Bizkit
Fav Track: Sworn Enemy, Victim So Strong.
Dejection are a 4 piece metal band from Flushing, Michigan. After a few listens, I have to tell you guys that there will be no flushing on my part, so I expect no real dejection on yours.
I was pleasantly surprised with Dejection, mostly at the talent and thought that has gone into the creation of 13 pretty strong tunes. While I do have a lot of critique, I have to say upfront that I can understand why hard rock or metal fans would be into listening to these guys either on CD or live.
The main points in their favour are the vocals, the drumming, the guitar sound and the song arrangements.
Things that I have critical comment about include: the vocals, the drumming and the song arrangements. I'll explain.
I feel that everything on the CD is about 75% of what it could be, and it's that last 25% that will hold back the band and the CD from being really solid CD when compared to anyone else, as opposed to a very good debut CD for a hardworking metal band.
The vocals are good, but they could be great. When Chris's lead vocals are soft and unaltered, they cut through nicely, as on most of the verses. Occasionally (as on tracks 7, 10 & 11) there is some effect on his voice, which I think adds a good dimension to their style of music. Then, during the chorus and/or backing parts, the vocal 'scream' is consistent and fine (be it Chris or Matt, I couldn't tell by the info provided). As well, it was nice to hear the lyrics most of the time. My only other recommendation is that Chris try to dig deeper and find more melody with his voice - more styling and more focus on key words and phrases, and maybe even less words sometimes.
The drumming is a clinic on double bass, speed and tasteful fills. Jordan rocks the kit and has a very good ear for what to play. The only hindrance to the drums sounding great is a tendency to overplay, whether to sound like a true metal drummer or because he simply loves to drum. I am reminded of a comment Jeff Martin of The Tea Party made about drummer Jeff Burrows' (a heavy hitter, not so keen on ballads) playing on the song 'White Water Siren Song' from Interzone Mantras - "And actually, it was meant to be a really gentle song on the record, but lo and behold, once again, Jeff Burrows comes in and ruins it all!". I feel like saying this to Jordan on occasion, except if you listen to White Water Siren you'll realize Jeff nailed it. The difference between good and great is knowing when to play and when not to. I know it's cliché, but sometimes less is more. (But don't worry Jordan, sometimes MORE is not enough)
Each of the 13 songs on the album has a point of interest - whether it's the intro, the vocals, the guitar melody or a killer drum lick or groove. The trouble is that only a couple songs tie it all together. An obvious songwriting scheme within hard rock and heavy metal is to contrast a soft intro or verse with a heavy hitting verse, and Dejection follows the formula a few times. They succeed occasionally, but for the most part either the transitions leave something to be desired or the parts are just too different to be a part of the same composition. It sounds to me like a little more experience will smooth that out and make the songs a little more palatable on the whole. Whether they want to hear it or not, there's a reason why Metallica's more recent work (well, 90's) was so successful - being a slave to the melody and the whole song is a good thing.
All in all, I have no doubt that these have the goods - individually and collectively - they're just missing that unknown something that binds the songs together and perhaps the experience of knowing when to do what the song needs. It sounds like a very unified effort overall - no one really stands out too much (well, the drums at times, but not by much). A great start to what I hope will be some more good tunes.
Keep it up Nick, Chris, Matt & Jordan. You are capable.
Website: Dejection @ Matchbox Records
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