Album Review: Samsara – Instinct Over Influence

August 9, 2010
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Samsare - Instinct Over InfluenceTitle: Instinct Over Influence
Artist: Samsara
Label: Trial & Error Records / Stomp
Released: 9 July 2010
In one word: Pissed!

One sincerely hopes that the title of this album wasn’t meant to be some statement of the band’s musical philosophy, ’cause while I kinda enjoyed the CD for what it’s worth – good, dumb fun; spirited, but hardly profound – it does ultimately sound like just about every other “hardcore” band out there right now, even if it does what it does rather well.  The music and vocals are suitably “angry” – Lord, are them vocals angry! – and the performances are as tight and assured as one could ask from a band of any genre.  The lyrics, which of course can only be understood with the aid of the inlay booklet helpfully supplied, are the stock-standard adolescent drivel about trying to find one’s place in the world, challenging traditional religious belief, questioning the meaning of existence etc etc…but who really cares what the hell the dude’s croaking on about when the only emotion his voice is seemingly capable of conveying is sheer, unadulterated RAGE?

I’ll (somewhat guiltily) confess, though, to generally preferring this kinda vocal style to the ones who have all of two voices:  Y’know, the shouty/growly one as well as the whiny, emo-esque, “I’m-so-sincere-I-could-shit-my-own-tears” singing one.  The last guy to pull that off without making my skin crawl was probably Fear Factory’s Burton C. Bell, and even he seems to have lost this knack in recent years (see City Of Fire)!  So yeah, gimme a whole album of the “angry” vocals any day, at least they blend in well enough with the frantic rhythms and “brutal” guitars that I can simply ignore ’em after a while.  There’s even a moment of suspense at the beginning of track #5, “Existence” (yawn), where one almost wonders if the album is about to break its hitherto relentless pace and deliver a “metal ballad” – please God, no! – but such fears are soon abated by those familiar roaring guitars and vocals.  Phew!  The album does pull its one hat-trick of sorts with the track “The Divide”, a surprisingly good and, dare I say, melodic instrumental.  Best track on the record for my buck.  But the rest ain’t half-bad either (long as you ignore them idiotic lyrics).  Its heart is certainly in the right place:  Energetic, inoffensive stuff for those times in life when you just wanna chuck on some angry shit and take your frustrations out on, I dunno, your mum’s couch or somethin’.

© Michael Bowser, Music Vice

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