Wednesday 20 June 2012

A Wanted Awakening - Catharsis

This is a pretty exclusive review I've got for you. Lowell, MA's melodic death metal band A Wanted Awakening are due to release their album Catharsis, on June 24th and I've been given the opportunity to bring a pre-release review to you all.

Some time ago, I reviewed their EP Rebirth, which was awesome in it's own right. Catharsis features the tracks from that EP and along with newer tracks, forms the band full length, for which they are playing not one, but two release shows for!


1. Final Ascent: Exile
2. Misanthrope
3. Dehumanize
4. The Massacre to Come
5. Flameborne
6. Tempest
7. The Perseus Veil
8. Pilgrimage
9. Spiders.
10. Final Ascent: Exodus

Opener, Final Ascent: Exile flies at you with brutal death shrieks and guttural growls that sit atop of melodic riffs, off-kilter arrangements and savage drumming. There's a lot going on, but musical textures are used sparingly so they don't overpower you. The clean guitar solo and sweep picking are awesome and that band take their cues from different parts of metal’s varied spectrum, to increase their musicality.

The clean vocals add a great modern touch to the record. It reminds of the days when I was first getting into metalcore, when it made the hair stand up on the back of my neck! Just listen the vocal melodies and improv guitar at the end of the first song.

Misanthrope is the first track here that appeared on their EP Rebirth and it loses none of its quality. The Hispanic style guitar that starts things off, makes way for another modern classic. If you're a fan of melodic death metal, you'll find loads to get excited about here and might just find your new favourite band. The need to bring experimental layers into the music really gives you a sense that these guys are really accomplished musicians. Their mixture of aggressive and melodic dynamics work well together.

Dehumanize is a new song and has a more melodic sentiment, but gives way to more deathly aggression. The production of Catharsis isn't as immediate as that of Rebirth, with the instruments buried slightly underneath the vocals. That said, it is clear and doe not take anything away from the quality on offer. Those low, guttural growls are quite incredible and bring that a sense of evil too the record. The switches between brutal heaviness and more introspective passages are effortless. The length of the songs also help, as AWA are able to pack loads of variety into their songs, which makes the record a well rounded body of work.

The Massacre To Come features higher pitched shrieks and shows the versatility of the vocals in a very good way. Sometimes bands of this ilk do rely on the harshness of the vocals to carry songs, but AWA mix melodic and screamed vox that complement each other.

Flameborn includes more off-kilter clean riffs during the verses and the choruses sound epic! The drums are fast as well, but not constantly. They are fast during the full-on parts, but have enough groove not to sound overpowering. I've heard a lot of records this year so far, all of which I've enjoyed for different reasons, but this record has to be a contender for album of the year in my eyes!

When sitting down to do this review, I promised myself I wouldn't categorise AWA alongside their peers, as I believe that bands should be considered individual, where possible. That said, I've not always been the best at sticking to that mantra. All I'll say at this point is if you are open-minded and enjoy well produced, metal that doesn't rely on electronic effects but more honest musicianship, Catharsis will be right up your alley. Tempest is another one of their newer tracks and it embodies exactly what I've just said.

As the second part of Catharsis rallies on through The Perseus Veil, I just want to sit and appreciate the passion and skill that AWA put into their music. A surprise hits you towards the middle of this song, with some brilliant almost free form jazz guitar that fits right in and again shows the versatility of the guitarists.

Pilgrimage contains some sick pinch harmonic effects, stop-start guitar riffs and really powerful drumming, Twin guitar melodies and cracking singing just complete the package for me. Spiders is the penultimate song on Catharsis and one of my favourites on Rebirth. It seems to be more brutal here thanks to the vocals and definitely has an edge to it that I can't pin down.

Final Ascent: Exodus is the closing song and also the longest at just over 7 minutes, so very much AWA's most indulgent piece of death metal loveliness. The epic solo at the start shows as much as AWA close Catharsis in triumphant style, catching all the elements that make this record so good and letting rip with a sense of accomplishment that most bands are still to find. It's a brilliant way to end this album.

AWA have got a massive future ahead of them and with Catharsis under their belts, should be breaking through and grabbing fans by the bucket load. They won't stay a secret for much longer, so pick up this album now and say you heard it here first!

As I said before, Catharsis is released this coming Saturday, so head over to AWA's Facebook page -, for more details and make sure you pick up a copy when it comes out. Also, follow AWA on Twitter at - @AWA_Band.

They also have a Tumblr page at, so there's no excuse to say you were not informed!

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