SummaryHow many terrible ideas can you have?
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Do we really need comeback albums from bands that have resurrected from the dead anymore? Sure, whenever a band is about to deliver a comeback album, a part of me can’t help but be unsurprisingly excited… but most of the times, these bands are better off by sticking to live shows. Conception may not have ended on a high note before they split-up and the EP comeback hardly featured any redeeming values, so would State of Deception be a return to form? Of course not!
Just like My Dark Symphony, which was released two years prior to this, Conception combines many random and awful ideas that don’t even end up making State of Deception sound cohesive. I’m all for albums full of variety as long as there is a clearly defined core that compositions are created from, but here it’s as if the band had no idea what direction to take, so they threw in a bit of everything that they could think of. From the orchestrated introduction that’s anything but promising, to the pseudo-bluesy/progressive crap of ”By the Blues”, State of Deception hardly features any redeeming values whatsoever. Keys that Conception once benefitted from have more often become a clear annoyance, unexpected female vocals often match with Roy Khan himself, who occasionally sounds really shitty and the guitars have taken a step back… noticing the red flags already?
Seriously, most of the time it’s as if Roy Khan and Tore Østby have no clue of what they’re capable of anymore. Khan hasn’t got the range that he once possessed and I won’t blame him for that – most of the times he maintains fairly soulful; sounding smooth and delicate as you’d expect him to… but even a few vocal lines here and there end up like a god damn embarrassment. “Of Raven and Pigs” makes a terrible introduction where he sounds more concerned about delivering an angry message than anything else and ends up sounding like fucking Dave Mustaine instead of himself! If that wasn’t bad enough yet, Østby relies on that same quickly-written-riff that goes on for a fucking eternity. Forget any creative flamenco guitar passages of the past, a strong hook, or even a decent chorus – this is a mess of a tune and to think that we’re just getting started…
Few notable riffs do recall the band’s heavier albums, certainly, yet as far as heavier songs are concerned, Conception still have a lot to work on. Thanks to Tore Østby‘s stomping guitar work, “She Dragoon” has a bit of an edge to it, but unfortunately Roy Khan’s “no’s” and “go’s” lines are absolutely nonsensical and if that wasn’t enough yet, he gets interrupted by some generic female vocals that don’t make things much better. They weren’t part of Conception’s trademark sound, so why rely on these now? It makes no sense to me whatsoever. “Waywardly Broken” gets introduced by the same angsty Khan than reminds me of Flow and quickly a generic, few-notes-to-little riff presents the verse. At last, there’s a decent chorus that resurrects itself, thanks to that dirty groove riff… but obviously that’s not enough to save the entire song. If anything, “No Rewind” sees Conception channeling their former self to a certain degree with success, as the track makes a decent punching, yet progressive number. With its tribal sounding drums, weighty, yet purposeful chugging riffs and exotic, yet shredded solo, I’m getting flashbacks of In Your Multitude. Alas, this track gets plagued by some keys that you’d expect from a symphonic metal band instead of Conception themselves – obviously not a great thing, but at least they only appear briefly in between.
If you think that the ballads will make much of a difference, then you better think again. “The Mansion” reminds me of the same boredom that Roy Khan put himself up with once he joined Kamelot. This tasteless piano-driven balladry hardly has anything to offer, save for Roy Khan himself… yet he gets accompanied by the some unnecessary female vocals once more, because, why not make something terrible even worse? It’s awfully bad stuff that makes “Cry” sound like “In Your Multitude”… believe it or not. “Anybody Out There” is as bad as it gets – you’ve got Roy Khan quietly singing through the verses as if he’s unsure whether he really wants to pull through and it sounds so laughable that I’m convinced this was a joke that accidentally appeared on the album. You also end up with a predictable chorus where more keyboard-driven crap haunts on the background and if it weren’t for the vocals, this would sound like the soundtrack of a flop movie. The tender, yet smooth ”Feather Moves” does show signs of improvement, but come on guys – you’ve released this song some years earlier already! The fact that this remains one of the better ones on the album is extremely sad.
State of Deception is easily one of the worst albums of 2020 and in hindsight I could have known that this would end up like shit. Roy Khan can still sing and Tore Østby still has some riffs in his arsenal, but it’s clear that Conception have re-established themselves into something awfully mediocre. If you’re hoping for anything that resembles the band’s glory days, then you better look elsewhere… and contact me once you’ve found something that does.
April 3rd, 2020
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