Album Review: Cambion – Virus (Extended Edition)
Posted by ChristopherMammal
Genre: Technical Progressive Metal
Release date: 20 April 2015
Previous EP releases: City of Ember (2010), Last Rites (2011), Virus (2012)
Length: 38 minutes
Recommended to: Fans of Meshuggah, Fear Factory, Gojira and other creators of adventurous experimental metal
Mammal’s rating: 4.5 out of 5
When you listen to bands like Cambion, it’s easy to understand how they hold their fans in such thrall. It’s surprising that they haven’t been swooped up by a big metal label. Cambion will be new to many prog metal fans, but once they’ve heard this band, it should soar high up in their estimation.
For me, technical prog metal doesn’t just have to compete with other branches of prog metal, including the melodic prog metal of Dream Theater, the power prog of Queensrÿche, the avant-garde style of Leprous or the crossover prog metal / symphonic prog of Haken. Prog metal itself has to compete with my other beloved genres, subgenres and bands in death, black, doom, folk, stoner, sludge and other metal styles.
Diluting matters even more, metal is but one of several forms of modern music that grab me. As I often repeat, my love is split among metal, prog rock and jazz. That makes me a music fanatic in a pretty broad sense. To leap out and stand above so many kinds of music, not just in prog metal, a band has to be exceptionally good. Cambion is. Virus is the complete package. It’s offered (and priced) as an EP. It’s long enough at 38 minutes to be more of a full album than an EP. Every one of the eight tracks is excellent enough to captivate me.
This re-release boosts the 2012 EP to full album status by adding two new tracks, “Mechanics of Extinction” and “Heterodox”. When I was young (yay, a chance to say that) a vinyl long-playing album seldom exceeded 40 minutes. Now that I’m old (bugger, I should say that too) I hear a tad too many 80-minute CDs that should have been edited down to 30 minutes. But every bit and every byte of Virus is great listening value.
Each song is its own, markedly different composition. Cambion appears to shun repetitiveness. If you seek innovation, variety and musical surprises, then lo! Verily, Cambion brings you this in an eightfold eargasm. By its nature, prog metal should be experimental. Virus is. Cambion reach into many realms of metal to extract the essence of their sound.
There is one place Cambion doesn’t look as good as it could, and that’s when you view the tracks in a sound-editing program. Maybe it’s just on the review copy of Virus. The valleys in the sound have been pushed upwards and the peaks have been clipped to equalize the recording volume at a constant level. No doubt there are nuances to Cambion’s music that don’t come through in the dynamic range adjustments. Surprisingly, this hasn’t made the recording sound forced.
Virus will be on my list of albums of the year.
Cambion’s line-up consists of Elliott (lead guitar and lead vocals), Marc Randall (guitar), Jonny Walker (bass) and Frank Dennis (drums and backing vocals). Learn more about Cambion on their Facebook page and their website.