June 9th, 2010
‘Order’ is the fifth album by German straight-edgers Maroon and the follow up to 2007’s ‘The Cold Heart Of The Sun’ and like their previous records is one smattered with strong declarations of belief and the obligatory new way for metalcore to do things â€“ many, many breakdowns â€“ but the endless switch in style is something the band are to be admired for and makes each of their records a fresh listen. Is ‘Order’ of the quality to sustain this pattern or have the ideas run dry?
Call for arms type instrumental intro ‘Morin Height’ begins proceedings before ineffectively segueing to first track proper ‘Erode’. It isn’t a huge problem but it starts the album in a disorienting fashion, but not the good effect provided by this opening song. We begin with thudding riffing and shredding before a breakdown and haunting acoustic guitar insert before just going apeshit again and thrown a few solos and more breakdowns in there for good measure too. I was apparently foolish to question whether they would continue to diversify. Once that brainmelder is out of the way we get some pretty impressive tech spots with some intricate solos and well timed breakdown sections, with plenty or harkening to the metal days of yore, but the nostalgia trip isn’t really overbearing. They do have the self indulgent guitar work down pat though. Things get a little more interesting with our first epic of the album, ‘Bleak’ with lots of arpeggiated acoustic, synths and violins and dramatic spoken vocals before screams and more of their scaled guitar work before a huge rousing chorus and a huge, and I mean huge and I say frenetic guitar solo. Very impressive but it just didn’t move me. It’s not a new way to tell a story, and that’s not what I hold against it, stuff like this can either floor you or it can feel contrived, and sadly it is the latter on this occasion. The one area the band does excel though, if not huge epics, is simpler metal with a thrash twist that songs like ‘This Ship Is Sinking’ and ‘Leave You Scared & Broken’ have, it’s just in places, the vocal undermines this, because it’s not particularly special. It’s just a lot of near-throatiness and it kind of dulls the attack on these songs. It is kind of telling that I keeping going to start sentences with phrases like ‘things then get interesting’ but nonetheless they do when we get a distinctly harsher sound change for ‘Children Of The Next Level’ where the band leave the metalcore-cum-Metallica behind for a more dark black metal type style; at least in a condensed style. There’s some very ominous church bells and drum work on the end of this track too, but they seemed a little unnecessary. The closer ‘Schatten’ seems to have garnered a lot of attention with other critics mainly for its blending of the prototypical metalcore with clean breaks and in the band’s native German tongue. This song is everything ‘Bleak’ wasn’t in essence and is a good example piece of this kind of music.
Despite all of my complaints, I can’t argue that music is very crisp sounding, and in theory is well written. My problem is that Maroon have tried too many things here, and while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, not enough of them have come off. When so many ideas are thrown at the wall and none of them stick it’s a sink or swim kind of situation, with not particularly a lot of middle-ground in case things go wrong. The converse problem is that the songs that separate the noteworthy (for better or worse) moments kind of fall into the textbook metalcore category, so to speak. They are solid if unspectacular and technically spiffy, but in places it just blurs together. ‘Order’ is an ambitious attempt at making a band stand out amongst an overcrowded genre, but unfortunately it doesn’t work and leaves a disappointing album, but the band show signs of getting it right with ‘Erode’ particularly impressing, but maybe a little more time at the drawing board is needed to attain success on a larger scale next time at the bat.
Written by Paul Smith