Remember when you discovered that Santa wasn’t real? How cheated and robbed you felt; the innocence of childhood belief trampled. This is how The Physics of Fire will leave you feeling; cheated, and betrayed. Two years ago Becoming The Archetype‘s major debut Terminate Damnation was released out of nowhere to much critical acclaim and excitement among fans of bands like Death. With their much anticipated follow-up, someone somewhere clearly thought it would be a good idea to recklessly mess with an otherwise perfect formula; the result’s of which are best erratic but for the most part just plain and dismal.
Epoch Of War starts deceptively well, accordion and choral chants give way to a blood curdling scream and familiar old school lead sets us up for a driving rhythmic intro. This then blasts into break neck blast beats and Jason Wisdom’s guttural roars. Then it all goes rather fiddly and lighter for the pre-chorus; but it’s the Malmestein like virtuoso lead of newcomer Alex Kenis that pulls this rips this song apart. It happens again and again; Immolation starts brilliantly, but once again two minutes in, someone unleashes members of Iced Earth’s for an ’80s power metal ballad. Why, dear God why?
Autopsy’s building minimalist breakdown sees a return to the epic level of songmanship I was expecting, while The Great Fall starts in a barrage of aural mayhem, and for once stays within respectable levels of heaviness to be classed as proper metal. Hope continues for single material such as Endure. Fire and Flesh try’s once again to marry jarring dated melody with death metal breaks and once again comes fails miserably.
It wouldn’t be fair to call these buys a one hit wonder. Those who partook in their debut or witnessed their brief European tour earlier this year can bear testament to that. Every single track on Terminate Damnation was perfectly crafted and executed with drill hammer like accuracy, while their (albeit poorly attended) live shows took these creations to new heights. Much as I want to dismiss them as having used up all their creative talent on the previous release, that’s not the case either.
The 11 tracks of The Physics Of Fire each contain moments of unrivalled progressive metal. Tragically most of them also contain either the newly adopted operatic vocals, ridiculously clichéd soloing style, or worse; both. This results in the suffocation of the amazing vitality that their debut contained and often amounts to little more than Dragonforce trying to duet with Cradle Of Filth.
In short there is a fundamental clash of styles in this band which is in dire need of address. While fans quickly turn their backs on and act who churn out repetitive material album after album; Becoming The Archetype should have taken their sophomore opportunity to cement their place as progressive death pioneers, placing them in the realm of bands like Opeth. Instead, we have a band with an identity crisis; who no doubt in an effort to push the boundaries of creativity may well have just imploded through experimentation.