When I started to get seriously into metal and was just haphazardly trying everything out some of the first stuff my unrefined palette fell on was symphonic metal. Bands like Nightwish, Epica, Delain, After Forever, helped loosen my presupposed ideas of what metal could be and helped ease me into more (way more) extreme styles. To me, it was new and different and while I’ll always acknowledge those bands as stepping stones, I don’t particular enjoy much of that genre nowadays. However, I still do find the juxtoposition of those soaring, beautiful, operatic vocals appealing against the harsher metal guitars but you seldom hear them without all the over the top theatrics and inherent cheesiness that comes with symphonic metal.
Enter Erik Rutan. You know, former guitarist from Morbid Angel, currently in Hate Eternal, and metal producer extraordinaire. His project Alas took his catchy and technically savvy guitar skills, encompassing production value, and coupled it with an amazing, operatic vocalist to come up with a technical and prog-ish, death metal counterpart to the symphonic metal sound. It’s all the vocal power you like but with some amazingly played and crafted metal. It’s entirely refreshing to hear these type of vocals without that ridiculous artsy, pretentious, haze that hangs over those bands and singers. On it’s own it would be a fairly memorable, yet intricate death metal album but coupled with the vocals it truly stands out from the crowd and I’m wondering why given the caliber of playing and Rutan’s involvement this isn’t more widely praised. I guess that’s why I have this blog.