Evasion Therapy is the sophomore release from Milanese hardcore-metal quartet Exalt Cycle (which I presume to be some sort of highly regarded motorbike. Either that or something was lost in translation). They might consider themselves lucky that this five-track disc is considered only a ‘mini-album’, because were it full length they may well have been receiving a call from the lawyers of the Slipknot estate. This so called mini-album is an almost shameless homage/rip-off of their legendary Iowa era material, and would perhaps have been better marketed as some sort of tribute album (although to draw a parallel, that would be like calling a 1950s minstrel’s clarinet recital a ‘tribute’ to Louis Armstrong). However, if the Slipknot boys are anything like myself, they may simply struggle to care enough.
Now whilst that opening description of Evasion Therapy may seem a touch harsh, I can assure you it is mainly due to apathy, rather than outright contempt, that it is so. Exalt Cycle simply lack innovation and creativity, and in a modern metal music scene which is jam-packed with both, it’d be surprising if they were handed a record contract. Lead vocalist Zack (whose surname is mentioned neither on the disc’s accompanying press release, or the band’s MySpace) combines the voice of a Slipknot era Corey Taylor with that of a Stone Sour era Corey Taylor to create something not quite as good as either. His deep throaty growl, whilst seemingly passionate at first, loses its shock factor through overuse, and the mixer/producer’s decision to overdub several more versions of the same voice – most likely in an attempt to add depth – simply washes out any crispness Exalt Cycle‘s sound may once have had.
Depth is their most painful lack. After listening to the entirety of opening track (and highlight of the album) “Wring My Blood”, it is almost embarrassingly noticeable that they only have one guitarist. Whilst they probably adopted this approach to achieve a purer, more raw sound, it only makes it harder to tell the difference between each track. Wolve, the (admittedly brilliantly named) solitary guitarist, has quite the task on his hands trying to create a different sound for each song, but the songwriting simply is not up to the task, even if he is. The breakdowns pulsate and pound nicely at first but soon wear thin, and differ little from track to track.
It is difficult to write off Exalt Cycle entirely, as each song features at least one moment in it which will have you headbanging along, but that moment is quickly forgotten, leaving you thinking about skipping to the next track. Which, for an album where the average track length is roughly three and a half minutes long, is a sad state of affairs indeed.