Symphonic elements in metal can lead to the spectacular (Dimmu Borgir), bright and powerful (Kamelot), or downright cheesy (Rhapsody, Rhapsody On Fire, Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody, Rhapsody 3.0, etc.). So with such a fine line to get all the elements right, it’s a wonder that some bands use the added flavor of symphonics into their brand of metal and don’t think about meshing it with the overall sound. Such is the case with Italy’s Genus Ordinis Dei.
From the opening track “From The Ashes” with a classical intro that transitions immediately into a straight ahead and crunchy melodic death prowl, we’re shown tiny bits of promise at first that quickly goes the cliché route and gets very boring and predictable in a timely fashion. There’s nothing striking that sets the music apart from any other melodic death band. The riffs and song structure for the most part can be seen a mile away. The operatic synth is too present and up-front in far too many situations for my liking in the five tracks presented for me to peruse. It takes too much emphasis off of the other instruments, which is somewhat alarming considering every band member comes from an academic musical background in which they studied and graduated in some of the best music academies in Italy (RGA, MMI, NAM). You would think with these credentials that there would be a better overall flow to the music, but instead I’m treated to some moments that look like I’m finally about to indulge in something exciting, only to have the pace pulled back or to have the electronic element halting progress. As soon as the band gets some decent momentum going with a good riff run, they mess it up by going overly symphonic and killing any traction that was built up. I see a huge problem in symphonic type music where synthesizers are overly present, and instead of accenting the sound, they make the listener pay too much attention to it as the driving force of the sound as opposed to something helping the other instruments along. It should be a background element, and not front and centre, in my personal opinion.
Guitarist Tommy Mastermind (seriously?) is the one bright spot in this somewhat messy concoction as his guitar playing is deliberate, pounding and fluid (like in moments during “That Beast Astray”), which confuses me more profoundly when I realize he’s credited with the orchestral arrangements. It’s almost as if he’s in a tug-of-war with himself on giving both areas of his musical itinerary an even playing field instead of letting the music flow freely.
The lone track to get any sort of attention from me was “That Beast Astray”, with it’s almost streamlined direction with less emphasis on the symphonic backbone of their sound. It was a welcome detour and it showed me what was possible if this element was dropped down to accents and scattered appearances, and not as a necessary evil. Stick to this more well-rounded sound for the next album and I might give the band a second look.
With five songs clocking in at a quick 22 minutes in total for this EP, I’m left to wonder that instead of making the most of that time allotted, why would the band take such a safe and almost over-calculated approach to their songwriting?
01. From The Ashes
02. Embracing The Earth
03. Of Honor And Stone
04. That Beast Astray
05. Red Snake
Playing time: 22:06
Release date: 17 June, 2016
Label: Mighty Music
Website: Genus Ordinis Dei Official Website