On Thorns I Lay
~reviewed by Joel Steudler
Depressing metal does not excite me. That should come as no surprise, given its nature. It is hard to muster any enthusiasm for an album like 'Egocentric' from On Thorns I Lay. Fifty minutes of mid-paced mope-metal is a good way to bore anyone into a coma, particularly if you don't have exceptional compositions or performances to give the album shape and depth. 'Egocentric' doesn't have either. The album is hardly unlistenable, and in fact is pleasant sonic wallpaper, but it certainly doesn't command listeners' attention.
The band wavers between a number of stylistic approaches over the course of the album, but generally lands somewhere around 'prog-ish gothy quasi-metal'. It's Rock'n'lull, if you will. For each heavy rocker, there's a dingy sleeper. While listening to 'Egocentric', I was reminded at various times of Alice in Chains, Korn, REM, Katatonia, Morrissey, and the early 90's alternative sound. Nothing on this album, though, would be anything more than filler from any of those artists.
No new ground is broken with the band's reliance on formulaic instrumentation, mostly featuring only guitar, bass, and drums. An occasional viola line or keyboard effect will creep into and slink out of a song now and then, but it hardly makes a dent in the drudgery. I can't say that the individual performances are bad, as such. They're fine, really, and nicely recorded... just run of the mill. Musicians such as these who are clearly proficient at playing their given instruments should be able to come up with something a little more creative than they have, though... and that's the main problem I have with 'Egocentric'.
If the song structures, riffs, vocals, and melodies weren't so generically bland, On Thorns I Lay may have had a worthwhile album on their hands. Lead singer Minos's monotonous clean speak-singing doesn't help matters, either. Like everything else on the album, his vocals are generally inoffensive but lack the spark of artistic inspiration that is present in all great music. If you are looking for a sleep aid, or really enjoy music that has no discernable character of its own, check this album out. I, however, hope the bandmates check their egos at the door on their next trip to the recording studio and take this advice: try writing creative music!
On Thorns I Lay is:
On Thorns I Lay Official Site:
Black Lotus Records:
The End Records (US):