Album Review: SETMEONFIRE - Lowtech
Genre: Alternative Metal
Release date: 1 March 2019
Review by Samantha Wolstenholme
There is an exciting movement that I have observed in the metal world of late, a seismic shift in the approach many heavy musicians are taking towards their songwriting. Not long ago, metal was an easily definable genre incorporating various common musical characteristics but eschewing influences from most other genres. Nowadays, metal shines as a genre notable for its stylistic diversity, as more and more heavy bands become increasingly adventurous in their efforts to transcend traditional genre barriers by skillfully embellishing the core “metal” sound with everything from world music and bluesy roots to urban and even EDM flavours. SETMEONFIRE is one such band that refuses to conform to any familiar framework, and Lowtech, the five-piece’s first full-length album since their inception three years ago, is an ambitious and creative offering by a band ready to make their unique mark on the metal world.
Lowtech is a true musical journey of ebbs and flows, and what a twisting, unpredictable and riveting journey it is. The album opens with a succession of solid bangers: the title track hits like a punch to the guts with its sleek, high-octane, synth-driven sound reminiscent of Pendulum meets Fear Factory, and this is followed by 'Nerve', which takes off in heavy hyperdrive like the metal incarnation of EDM titans The Prodigy. Catchy single 'Creature' further showcases vocalist Cameron Eyre’s versatility as he alternates between powerful, anthemic belts, spoken word and Chester Bennington-esque anguished grit, his crystal-clear tenor cutting sharp as a knife through the thickly layered, industrial texture. The rhythm section features more prominently here with a stellar punchy riff driving the track home to a satisfying conclusion.
After this, Lowtech does lose a bit of steam, with more subdued tracks 'Perfect Hell' and 'Terminal' clearly placed to provide some dynamic contrast to their predecessors, but failing overall to reach a climax despite attempts to build the suspense. However, the band easily recovers themselves with the arrival of the swaggering 'Compliance', bringing back the heavies with chuggy, chunky riffs interspersed with catchy choruses and an extended rap section that harks right back to SETMEONFIRE’s strong nu-metal influences of Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit.
'The Expedition' begins at a slow creep, building the intensity until groovy riffs kick in, layered with smooth synths and haunting vocals. The pulsating electronica choruses in 'Deathbed' give way to the most progressive track on the album, 'Patterns', which combines the band’s multitude of influences and flavours in an explosive sonic melting pot culminating in the anthemic final chorus. The gentle 'Save Me' serves as a fitting palate cleanser after the frenzy of the previous track, leading neatly into the album’s final track, 'Rebirth', a concise, powerful and passionate note of defiance and hope that ends Lowtech with a bang. With the addition of some gut-wrenching harsh vocals, this track evokes deathwave legends Sybreed in all their glory. It’s definitely my favourite track, wrapping up a highly diverse offering with a mature finesse and leaving me both satisfied and wanting more simultaneously.
All in all, despite occasional missteps in a few of the more subdued tracks, Lowtech is a landmark achievement for its striking uniqueness, remarkable creativity and memorable melodies. SETMEONFIRE are one of those rare bands with the ability to blend genres and influences once thought to be polarising, presenting a sound that is entirely their own in a way that is accessible and appealing to a wide spectrum of heavy music fans. Lowtech is a fantastic debut release that is a testament to the originality of its creators, and it promises a very bright future ahead for this talented five-piece.
8.5 out of 10