The Conscious Sedation by System Divide
Release date : September 2010
Reviewed by Mark Fisher
Boasting a lineup that includes members of Antenora, Malignancy, Sven De Caluwe of Aborted, Michael Wilson of Abigail Williams, and ex-Distorted singer Miri Milman providing the female vocals, The Conscious Sedation already had a lot going for it on paper. This new band’s members are certainly not so new to the underground metal scene. System Divide’s first full-length release, The Conscious Sedation, comes on the heels of the band’s debut EP and boasts an anthemic, metal-tinged sound that blends the soaring vocal aspect of Lacuna Coil with the aggressive and passionate sound of bands like Killswitch Engage and All That Remains. The band even throws in some more extreme moments here and there, as a certain nod toward their individual histories.
The Conscious Sedation is a mixed bag to be honest. When it’s at its best it’s great. For example, “Lethargy” has grinding guitar works, guttural growls, emotional screams, and solid female vocal in the chorus that helps it all to gel and brings some beauty to tame the beast when it’s most needed. The explosive “Stagnant Progression” has a melody mostly supported by the guitars, a soaring female vocal with guttural underpinnings, and some of the craziest and most interesting drum work I’ve heard over the last couple of years. In fact, the drums on that song probably wouldn’t work on paper but the band holds the loose cannon together just long enough to get the shot fired at precisely the right moment. The more rock radio-friendly “Hollow” was likely created to be just that, but still manages to capture the distinction of being one of the album’s coolest moments. The more contemplative (perhaps even soul-stirring during certain moments) “Echoes” is a highlight as well.
That said, this album isn’t entirely sunshine and roses. “Intoxicating Affair” sounds like a combination of about three different songs and it never stays in one place long enough to capture the listener. Likewise, “Repent/Forget” tries its best to be brutally heavy but just never comes together enough to keep the heaviness moving. Despite these almost disruptive moments, this album leans much heavier towards the good than the bad, leaving some definite room for maturation though.
While it’s not popular these days to be lumped in with metalcore bands, System Divide do the genre a lot of justice by appealing to that crowd without allowing themselves to be confined by the name. For the most part, The Conscious Sedation will strike the right chords with anyone who loves the sound of more recent metal (think 1998-present) and may even appeal on some level to those who like the more commercial sound of bands like Lacuna Coil and Sirenia that has really come into its own over the last five years.