Overall Score: 6.8/10 Songwriting: 7/10 Replay Value: 7/10 Originality: 5/10 Pros: Great hooks | Strong vocal performance Cons: Sounds too similar to bands such as Destiny Potato | Lacks variation
Above The Earth was formed by Russian industrial virtuoso Roman Arsafes and former Destiny Potato vocalist Aleksandra Radosavljevic after the latter’s departure from the Serbian pop-djent band in 2012. With their debut EP in the same year, they made a name for themselves in the Eastern European progressive metal scene and this year, with “Every Moment”, they’re hoping to crack the West like Destiny Potato did so successfully last year.
Instrumentally this album borrows heavily from djent and industrial music to create a hard hitting yet hook driven sound, taken to more accessible levels with the poppy vocals of Radosavljevic. Such a combination would normally be rather jarring to the listener, but with predecessors such as the aforementioned Serbs and prog metal titan Devin Townsend setting the basis for such a contrasting genre to exist, Above The Earth thrive in this odd pocket between metal and pop. The lyrics are upbeat and catchy (especially in “Hilltop”), and Arsafes’ downtuned riffs are constantly shifting between melody and aggression, creating a conflicting yet somehow successful mesh of sounds. An odd solo sometimes pops up too, with a particular highlight in “Trapeze” (as performed by Jakub Zytecki). Arsafes’ eclectic and versatile musicianship stands as a real highlight in this album, complemented by guests solos from Zytecki and violinist Shravan Sridhar.
The problem for these guys is that the style has already been more or less mastered by other bands before hand and Above The Earth have so far failed to really bring anything different to the table in order to make themselves stand out. The odd moments of harsh vocals (such as in “Paradise”) are a rare change from the general formula but are too infrequent to be of any note. This is not to say that the band is a one trick pony, as the songs do try to incorporate subtle changes, but they’re too subtle whenever they show up which makes it pointless unless you actively look for them. Some of the more pop-fuelled moments feel extremely cheesy as well, with the low point being in “Starlight Lane”. The lack of variation also makes the album a challenge to listen to in one sitting, with one feeling as if they’re listening to the same track once you reach the halfway point of the album. Even heavier songs like “Pretend” start off brightly before rapidly turning back into the tried-and-tested sound of the rest of the album within a minute, with the exception of a rather intense breakdown which redeems the track from becoming another footnote. Closing tracks “All Our Dreams” and “Above The Earth” finally present something different, but at a combined total of over 14 minutes and sitting at the end of the album, it’s a real test of patience to be able to reach them.
Nonetheless, the band knows what they want and sticks to what they’re good at, with more or less successful results. The pure pop verses of “Starlight Lane” present the most controversial moment of the album with resemblances to Amaranthe, but most of the tracks remain fairly strong. If upbeat pop-djent is what you’re after, then you will enjoy this. Everyone needs to sit back and enjoy a little bit of cheese every now and then, including the most diehard metalheads, so this should be considered a nice addition to any music collection. The group just needs to carve out its own identity, however, in order to be able to stand on its own merit rather than simply in comparison to its more successful contemporaries.