Threat Signal – Threat Signal (Nuclear Blast Records)

Saturday, 23rd March 2013
Rating: 7/10

Caught in no-man’s land between Fear Factory-bred cyber metal and mortifying Linkin Park-styled rock, Canada’s Threat Signal can’t win for losing. It really boils down to the fact that singer Jon Howard does a dead-on Chester Bennington (Linkin Park) impersonation during his clean vocal segments, and if there’s a bigger death-knell in underground metal, please find it for us. Subtract those from the mix and Threat Signal would be the rightful heirs to the American cyber metal throne. Clearly, it’s not happening on this, the band’s self-titled (and third) album.

In terms of where the band falls in the modern metal discussion, they’re right up there when thinking about bludgeoning, yet accessible numbers. With a rhythmic and staccato chug behind them, Threat Signal makes things really easy to like on the opening “Uncensored” and during portions of “New World Order,” but then the clean vocals come in…and it’s sullied. And it’s not like Howard’s clean vocals are all over the place. When they pop up, it feels very inopportune, that’s all.

The band’s distinct Euro thrash edge (think a more tame Darkane, if that helps) has its merits during “Face the Day,” where a combination of technical and bouncy riffs make it an instantly happening jam. “Disposition” follows suit, with a tempo that barrels its way through the speakers, while “Death Before Dishonor” employs some spiraling lead guitar work that is an element Threat Signal would be wise to do more of.

Perhaps we’re being a bit harsh on Howard’s clean vocals (Blistering doesn’t likeLinkin Park, obviously), so this self-titled effort probably has more merit than meets the eye. The band’s penchant for startling grooves and balls-deep staccato rhythms are awfully hard to deny. Nevertheless, if Threat Signal can find a way to dip into both the djent and kiddie rock crowd, they’re well on their way to superstardom. Stranger things have happened.

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