Starts out with a blast and ends with barely a spark to its name

Although released as a single album, there are two distinct segments in Octanic’s debut. Part one, an epic, modern blend of alternative metal, thrash and classical music, and part two, a dull, repetitive and largely uninspiring example of emo rock gone awry. The outcome is an unbalanced album that will have trouble finding an audience in the metal scene, and the mainstream music community.

Starting out as an onslaught of thrash meets death meets metalcore with epic string supports, Octanic begins with a bang so engrossing it’s almost impossible to stop listening. Most of the music is quite simplistic, save for the epic solos, but the entire package is executed expertly enough to create a rather unique sound. Fans of Disturbed will really get into the metalcore singing, but the clean vocal work leaves a lot to be desired.

Presentation is much more closely related to alternative metal than anything else, making Octanic quite accessible especially for youngsters looking for a way to ease to heavy music. Not only is it heavy in all the right places, the album challenges the popular perception of alternative metal by seamlessly blending all the aforementioned genres into a package that’s both easy to listen to and musically engaging.

That is, until you reach the second half of the album, where everything takes an emotional turn for the worst. By the third last track, Aeternus Imperium is a musical version of a fifteen year old’s faux suicide note posted on Facebook in a desperate bid for attention. Not only do the riffs and lyrics become dull and unimaginative (the final track uses the word fuck more times than the rest of the album), the painful clean vocals take over most of the lyrical duties.

This wouldn’t be so bad if the singer stayed within his range, but he constantly forces out notes well beyond his capabilities, most of which completely miss the intended note and border on unlistenable. Occasionally a guitar solo will pop up, but for the most part the latter half of the album is your standard, emo rock affair only with less imagination.

Fortunately, the production rarely misses a beat even with the multiple layers of sound. Most of the instruments are balanced very nicely, particularly the strings which blend almost seamlessly into the rest of the band. Yet the most impressive element of the whole album is that Octanic are never forced to rely on volume to convey their epic sound, with no hints of over-production whatsoever.

To see an album start out so brilliantly and end on such a low is heartbreaking. It had the potential to be one of the best local releases of 2012, but the foray into emo rock and terrible attempt to include clean vocals destroys what began as a powerhouse of epic metal. It’s sad to say, but Octanic is an album that starts out with a blast and ends with barely a spark to its name.

1. Aeternus Imperium
2. King for a Day
3. Addict
4. Deadworld (All Life Lost)
5. The Mask of Hypocrisy
6. Solus
7. Fear the Reaper
8. Pariah
9. Purging the Maelstrom
10. The Devil Pays Higher