Averted – Silenced EP
Release Date: 18/12/2020
Running Time: 25:19
Review by Steven Hooke
It feels weird and a little dirty to describe anybody’s sound “old school djent” given the youthful tenure of the progressive metalcore-adjacent genre, following its primary explosion in popularity in 2009. I mean, it can only just about go and watch Wonder Woman 1984 in cinemas (if we were allowed outside that is).
But “old school” or “first-wave” djent seems the most fitting descriptor for this Southampton four-piece. These early days of the controversial movement saw bands perform in two very distinct ways: widdle around on guitar like they’re doing their Grade 8 exam with the occasional Meshuggah-laced power chord thrown in there to show they’re part of the scene, and swapping out the aggro parts of modern metalcore with ‘obZen’ by Meshuggah.
On their debut release, Averted have done the latter, offering a sprightly modern metalcore affair with Jamie Stevens’ tree trunk-thick guitar tone to bounce along the rhythm, that explodes into wild, spindly licks that eventually give way to the double-barrelled vocals of Syhem Angel. An underrated trope of the genre – and something producer Jack Stephens has nailed – is that a release’s mix allows drummers and bassists (the unsung heroes of metal rhythm sections) to have their talents heard to great extent as well, as drummer Merlin Parr meets every syncopated chug at the pass, and Logan Ashed does as good a job accentuating the low-end tones of the band’s sound, as he does echoing any tangible scale adventure Jamie takes, as heard best on ‘Vaecordia’.
Something I found took a little while to come around to (whilst categorically not saying they are bad at all) were the vocals of frontwoman Syhem. Her harshes are more than sound and up to the task, delivering a range not too dissimilar to Otep Shamaya, albeit with less rasp and more guttural body. In her cleans though, it almost feels like at times, she’s singing outside the ranges of this style of metalcore, having such a rich, unusual sound to her voice, oftentimes feeling more at home on a power metal record. Using ‘Sacrifice’ as an example, the instrumentation in the verses is short and punchy, whilst the vocals feel like they’re trying to use a more flowing kind of delivery, but somewhere there’s been a compromise and the vocals are trying to hit a word-per-beat ratio. Compare that to a song like ‘Absolution’, where sharp, heavy riffs build to a swell for Syhem’s vocals in a way that feels way more natural and it’s a no contest. Considering all parts of the EP were recorded in individual home studios, meaning the collaborative process would have been a different beast entirely, and as a group, they’re barely a year old, this can all easily be remedied in the post-apocalyptic future of inter-person engagements. Also, as a side note, the power clean vocals on the chorus of the title track are sinfully good. Take a bow.
Overall Averted haven’t rewritten the rules for djent or ushered in a new era of techy metalcore, everything on “Silenced” has been done before, but it’s a testament to them that at no point did it feel repetitive or boring. Again, considering each part of the EP was recorded in separate remote locations and doesn’t sound horrendously dysfunctional shows that they have promise as a unit. Getting a better hold of the song flow that is mutually beneficial to the music and vocals will improve with time and the delicate experiments with synths and keyboards, show that they’re already looking to expand their sound, and thus it may be a matter of time before the dedicated tech metalcore crowd starts taking notice.
01. The Plea
04. The Curse
Syhem Angel – Lead Vocals
Jamie Stevens – Guitars
Logan Ashed – Bass
Merlin Parr – Drums
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