Nu metal is a genre not much heard of since the early 2000’s. Similar to the quick dubstep phase, nu metal came and went faster than it did to perfect the breakdown of Korn’s ‘Freak on a Leash’. Yet Perth’s Conform still kick on with nu metal even though few bands succeed in the genre. Does their album work with nu metal? Yes and no.
The bands debut album Circa 94 contains some of the best bits of nu metal but mixed in with a lot of stuff that shouldn’t be there. The starting track to the album, ‘Roman Holiday’, seems like a mess of samples and mixing with the vocals hidden away for most of it. The chorus redeems itself yet it still seems a bit forced. Its also not great being able to hear the bass better than the vocals during clean vocal sections.
‘Deicide’ and ‘Eat More Death’ is where this album shines brightest. ‘Deicide’ has high energy and the old school nu metal sound that was big back in the day. ‘Eat More Death’, however, is just really well made and has this Korn mixed with classic Nine Inch Nails industrial sound that really keeps you listening to the album.
It feels like they tried to mix current rap with old nu metal beats with ‘Blood Eagle’ that really don’t fit. The main problem with so much of this album is that it feels that Conform are still really trying to find their sound. Vocalist Troy Van Der Meer seems to have an idea of what to do with the band but it doesn’t seem synchronised. Usually a band would use more EP’s until they discover their strengths but its seems they’ve gone with a cut and paste of sounds.
Their are some tracks where it works like ‘Six Years, Sick Fears’ and ‘Yellow Jacket’ because they are filled with adrenalin and go hard and heavy. Then it just drops so hard, unexpectedly hard, into ‘Vicious Thoughts’ where they all of a sudden lose that adrenaline in return for something soft. Is it a good song? Its decent. Should it be there? With the way this album goes, it doesn’t seem to suit it at all. As well as only going for a grand total of 1 minute and 55 seconds, its one track that should have been left in the cutting room.
The one thing you can tell with ‘Gaslight Sunset’ and ‘Crawl’ is the Van Der Meer really likes to distort and warp his voice. In small doses this is fine but it seems that its a constant throughout these 2 tracks. I don’t know what they were aiming for but I think the band missed the mark as sometimes its warped into incomprehension. Its understandable nu metal is experimental but you have to still make it enjoyable.
The saving grace for this album is it’s final track though. ‘Cyanide’ is catchy, clean, intense and has a seemless flow. Even chucking in some classic Gorillaz ‘Clint Eastwood’ lyrics instantly gave this reviewer something to latch onto on the first listen to get hooked. The only downside to this? It’s the last song on the track so there’s nothing more to really hook the listener in.
As hard as it is to release a debut album, this one should have been worked on a little longer to perfect. Yet again, sometimes a band can sound better live than recorded. Especially in nu metal.
YOU CAN GET ‘CIRCA ’94’ HERE!