System Divide
The Conscious Sedation

I really wanted to like this heavily promoted debut record from System Divide. And why not? It’s got Belgian metal stalwart Svencho De Caluwe (Aborted, In-Quest, Leng Tche) on vocals and he’s joined by his hotterthanheck wife Miri Millman (Orphaned Land) and former Abigail Williams guitarist Mike Wilson. The thing is, the band’s effort to basically meld Aborted and female fronted Gothic metal just isn’t as dynamic as you’d think it would be.

The main problem is that despite a strong, polished production, two great vocal performances and an admittedly fierce take on the dual, beauty and the beast vocal interplay, the end result simply comes across as a packaged, predictable, commercial melodeath/metalcore effort, that will have more appeal to the Deadlock, Sonic Syndicate crowd than anyone else. While the Aborted meets Nightwish promotional efforts of the CD have some appeal, the songwriting prevents it reaching  the potential, ultimately rendering The Conscious Sedation a fairly shallow record.

That being said, if Napalm Records’ roster of gothic lovelies (Edenbridge, Leaves Eyes, Elis, Katra etc) is a little too light for you, System Divide certainly adds some beef. Not only with Sven’s distinct growls and bellows, but with plenty of blastbeats and hefty grooves playing under Millman’s competent, chorus-based croons and some tinkering synths. Again, on paper, that sounds great doesn’t it?

And at times it is. There is an undeniable energy to many of the more up-tempo, songs like the opening track “Vagaries of Perception”, “Lethargy”, “(N)ether”, “The Conscious Sedation” and the album’s fiercest cut “Repentiforget”. There’s a chunky, and at times, cyber-ish Aborted-style riffage going on with epic vocal segues ― that’s as good as the album gets. The rest of the CD falls into a pretty formulaic pace that never sees the band break a songwriting sweat or push themselves into something a little more impressive.Svencho prowls and growls on top of blastbeats and grooves, before a bridge leads to a keyboard driven chorus that allows Millman to deliver her more softer, delicate offerings. You’ve all heard it before.

While the band occasionally breaks out of the norm―Millman singing over blasts and along with Svencho (single “The Apex Doctrine”)―it all falls into a predictable safety net. Right down to the slower ‘ballad’ “Hollow”, which is even more hundrum.The end result is an enjoyable, but incredibly safe and fence-sitting album that seems to be geared towards a more gateway metal market.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
November 2nd, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: Clauricaune

    Spot-on. This album is full of ups and downs, not consistent at all.


  2. Commented by: gordeth

    If you want to hear an uncommercial combination of clean female vocals and death metal, check out Act of God – The Place of Worship.


  3. Commented by: Mark

    I liked this album, but maybe thats because I dig Aborted alot. i wont say its a great album but, its above average


  4. Commented by: Mark

    and Aborted’s newest ep is friggin awesome


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