(BadMoonMad Music, 2018)
#FOR FANS OF: Death/Doom, Paradise Lost, Lacuna Coil
With two distinct vocalists cleanly singing, screaming, whispering, speaking, and growling throughout the album, the instrumental range compliments the spread with nods to Paradise Lost and Lacuna Coil, thundering bass across the spectrum of sound in some instances and methodically dragging melodies from dungeons into the sun at other times. In doom metal fashion, an anvil cymbal steadily strikes behind bellows of double bass tightening the treble's fetters and keeping it from escaping the weight below. A very Tool sounding riff to the closing track, “Dreamcatcher”, opens a song that accentuates the more gothic lilt to the doom sound that Maze of Feelings captures. While the band may bridge on some melodic death metal aesthetic in its vocals and some of its denser guitar moments, the majority of this album sticks closely to its doom template, experimenting with some gothic theater, and reigning in its pace from the first chugging riffing in “Drained Souls Asylum” to find its footing deeper in depression than screaming for vengeance.
As long drawn out melodies fight with a freight train of growling in “Cold Sun of Borrowed Tomorrow”, grappling with the high vocals and pulled to punishment by a laborious pacing, the downtrodden trope of a riff that opens “Grey Waters of Indifference” conjures memories of when this sort of sound was new and cool rather than common and overdone in many imitations. Still, Maze of Feelings is able to take the standard style and find success, but without the energy and power of some of the bands with which it shares its space.
'Maze of Feelings' is not without its faults and nadirs. While the crying sample at the end of “When Orphaned Daughters Cry” could have simply been left out of that quality piece, the band seems to have stuck more to the doom designation and accentuated it with different aesthetics rather than explored the conventions that could achieve the full potential of the band's ideas. Songs like “Necrorealistic”, “Dreamcatcher”, and “Drained Souls Asylum” start off with distinction just to end up running into the same dead ends, something expected when caught in a maze as sunlight fades, yet the gothic and more aggressive movements show that there's more to this band than simply playing the doom metal trope of taking a good start and constantly cornering it. The mid-paced structuring that uses its sure footing to find places to gallop and smoothly exaggerate is a strong starting template and Maze of Feelings would do well to take that template farther as the band goes along in order to better appreciate the instrumental talent lending itself to the theater at the forefront.
Maze of Feelings is a band that seems to revel in its familiarity and is set to inch its way towards making its own mark. Moments throughout this album show small points of individual personality, the instrumentation naturally rides its reveries as well as accentuates the theater in the vocals, but the band still has yet to truly come into its own. Here's hoping that these talented musicians can find an energy that compliments the ability gathered in this quintet.