Some albums sound really promising on their first listen, but on subsequent spins you start to notice your enthusiasm waning. I have encountered many releases that fit into this category, and it’s always a bit disappointing when it happens. On one hand, you really recognize the talent that a band has, but on the other, you take a step back and are somewhat saddened to realize that the package overall is really just not as refreshing as it seemed on that initial spin. That’s kind of how I feel about Ace Augustine’s debut effort, The Absolute.
Now, with an introduction like that, I need to specify that this album is not garbage – far from it, actually. Ace Augustine is a five piece Christian metal act from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and they play a brand of punchy, semi-technical metalcore. My main problem with The Absolute is that, while the band definitely works together as a well-oiled machine, they have more than a few breakdowns that, after a while, leave a very uninspired aftertaste. At the same time, the band has more than a few riffs that I feel are fresh and managed to keep me interested. For example, “The Debt That All Men Pay” starts with a bang that is sure to get some people moving. “Justifiers” also showcases more than a few licks that express how this band is not without talent. The title and closing track ends with a multi-tonal breakdown that transitions into a sing-along that may or may not get stuck in your head, but it’s still in mine. There are more than a couple of other stand-out moments on this album.
The guitars are fairly melodic and methodical, but at the same time, they go through many stagnant, simple bouts that I find typical for this type of music. This isn’t the worst thing that could happen though, and I’m sure that people who aren’t totally jaded by this metalcore standard will have no problem jumping into this. The total package of guitars and drums is very solid, slightly mathy even, and although I reached a point when my Ace Augustine honeymoon was over, I could not overlook the fact that it was a very tight production.
The screaming vocals are midrange, raw, and somewhat throaty, but full of emotion. There’s also some post-hardcore style clean singing, and I have to admit that it was nicely done, considering this sort of thing tends to grate on me. I originally thought that the lyrics were very preachy, but it’s not as bad as I thought – there are a few instances of outright worship, which is always a turn-off, but for the most part, they are just positive. I do have to mention that there is a line in “Axioms” that makes me laugh every time I hear it: in a spoken word verse with the last word screamed, the singer says “For I am a believer, but still I am a SIIIIIINNERRRRR”. I feel like Moral Orel just tried to convince me that he’s a bad ass. That probably wasn’t the desired effect.
When I was fresh out of high school, I thought that metalcore was the be-all end-all of extreme music. At that point in time, Shadows Fall and Killswitch Engage were years away from being signed to major labels, Unearth had no LPs and were still on their first drummer, and Poison The Well was one of the only bands whose name consisted of three words. As time went on, the scene exploded with an army of bands in that vein, and gradually, the genre became over-saturated. I think that Ace Augustine is really a victim of this – it’s all been done before, and even though they released a solid album, it doesn’t get me as excited as it would have ten years ago. Still, if you like the style, it may be worth giving this band a spin – it’s not The Absolute worst thing out there. And if you’re a Christian metal head, you might as well grab your prayer cross and your dancing shoes and go to town.
02. 2013 Looks Promising
03. Jonah Spoke Of Innocence
05. Senior Year At Sky City
08. The Debt That All Men Pay
09. The Merchant Tales
10. The Absolute