Shear – Katharsis (Lifeforce)Tuesday, 4th March 2014
Able to elude proper compartmentalization (which in itself, should be high-five worthy), Shear’s sophomore Katharsis is one of the rare Finnish metal albums that we can’t place an instant sub-genre tag. Such an occurrence makes DR’s bald dome even more bald, for without being able to tag something, what would we ever do? (Cue sarcasm.) But seriously, the band does a rather commendable job of sticking the melodic metal landing, all the while not totally pandering to power, symphonic, or any other sub-tag concocted.
The wild card in this is vocalist Alexa Leroux, who without the prerequisite opera vamping, positions herself as a pop singer hunkered down in a metal band. If the Paramore-like “whoa’s” in “Hollow Black Cold” aren’t an indication of this, then color us confused. But, such moments are pretty memorable when isolated from the rest of the album, which at times, gets a tad long in the tooth with ideas. The band probably could do away with ditching the pedestrian “I Care,” which grazes ballad territory; “Turmoil” is perhaps the only other jam that doesn’t totally connect, due in large part to some ill-fitting synths.
In spite of some casual hiccups, virtually every Finnish metal idea of the last ten years are crammed into the album, some of which trail Amorphis (“Not Myself”) and even modern Bodom (“Katharsis”). This is could be wear some potential confusion could lie with Katharsis – they’re a bit loose around the edges in terms of sound definition, which actually, is a welcome avenue. All this begs the question: Is the world ready for a poppy, but slightly-prog, near melodic death metal, somewhat extreme Finnish metal band?