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Music Review

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Welcome to the Asylum (EP)


Artist: Schizo Reject Asylum
Available 04 May 2010

Schizo Reject Asylum is a Death Metal band with somewhat diverse influences within the genre, which include Classic Rock, True Metal, Punk, Power Metal, Death Metal and Grindcore. The band was formed in August 2009 by drummer Keith Barnes and bass player Adam Evans. Pretty soon guitarists Robert Ivie and Dave Winter joined, and the line-up was completed by vocalist Rob J Lawrence. I'm told the band views the asylum as their stage; it's what they are running with their music.

Towards the latter end of 2009 SRA recorded a demo consisting of the two tracks, 'Welcome to the Asylum', and 'Hall of Mirrors'. Now, in 2010, they have sweated and growled in the studio to produce a five-track E.P. which is to be distributed in May. So where did I lay my hands on this prospectively tasty morsel? Well, it helps if you're taking drumming lessons from Keith Barnes! However, in defence of the groans I can almost detect from here that this is some sort of self-indulgent flag-waving in order to scratch his back, I did inform Keith that the review would be - as they all are - brutally honest.

Let's get to it then. The subject matter and the fact it was the first song they wrote together as a unit, means the title track acts as a signature tune. The first thing I noticed here was the immediate improvement in production quality over the aforementioned demo, which I've also listened to. The vocals are a little clearer, and the entire effect slightly more crisp. I realise the intention was to muddy the mix, but in my opinion it would have benefited the result to tweak it further. When the first fully-fledged album arrives I'm sure that will be rectified, without making the misjudgement of polishing to the point of over-production.

'Welcome to the Asylum' kicks us off with no-nonsense brutality. There doesn't even seem to be an introduction as such (and I'm not talking about the Charles Mansion intro from the demo, which I wasn't particularly enamoured with anyway), it's just there! This will jolt anyone into awareness and make the desired shock impact as a set opener at the forthcoming gigs. Forget the other influences, because they don't emerge in this track; it's simply the brutal end of Death Metal. It gets in, does the job and gets out again. I've lived with this track for some time now, but I made the mistake of playing it in the car where the speakers are not brilliant. When in the electrical hands of a better quality player the bass comes through, allowing you to better appreciate the percussion and bass, as well as the normally prominent vocals and guitars.

For me, 'Hall of Mirrors' is the pick of the bunch, and that's mainly down to it's Power Metal influence. Robert Ivie's catchy guitar riff has stuck in my mind for days now, to the point that I can't dispel the damned thing! It's what holds this song together and carries it along. To my tastes it's more accessible, and that made me take more notice of what was going on individually. Being a rubbish guitar player (I just about know which way around you hold the thing), until recently I primarily listened to the guitars, treating the rest of whichever group I was listening to as backing unit. Sort of like a roaming striker amongst an otherwise static football formation. So for me it's the guitars which are once again the driving force in the following track, 'The Greatest Lie.' The opening riff and the triplet time-change gives this song a strong hook and, guitars aside, the vocals are a little more accessible here.

'Vigilance' allows the best opportunity to follow timing changes on the drums. Although the song follows a decent enough mid-tempo pace, it is a little too repetitive, making it the weakest of the bunch here. Conversely, 'The Five Horsemen' is one of those songs that mixes no frills Black Metal with Melodic Death Metal. This is a leaf out of Amon Amarth's book in terms of structure. Listen to AA's 'Bloodshed', and you'll see what I mean. My preference in Metal leans towards the melodic, so at first listen SRA wouldn't necessarily be my given taste. But Welcome to the Asylum benefits from several spins. Now I can't get some of the tracks out of my head. I look forward to seeing how they perform live at their first gig, on 25th June at the Fox and Firkin in Lewisham.


Ty Power