Wastefall - Self Exile
Sensory Records
Progressive Rock / Metal
11 songs (51:07)
Release year: 2006
Wastefall, Sensory Records
Reviewed by Al
Surprise of the month

As I’m sure those of you that follow my irreverent musings on this site know, I’m a big advocate of originality. I like my metal served interesting, with a wide variety of styles and a dash of experimentalism. While I enjoy some nice, simple chugging riffs and blastbeats on occasion it is always the proggy aspect of our beloved genre that tends to hold my interest for longer periods of time. I feel that through the spectrum of more experimental bands, metal is one of the genres truly on the cutting edge of what we define as music. The genre in this mould is one of the few areas of music where artists seem to have the balls (or ovaries) to try something genuinely different and break some of the ‘rules’ of music. That ladies and gentleman, is why I like prog.

Swiftly moving on from that unrestrained rant into slightly more relevant territory, the band under the microscope today is the Greek five piece Wastefall. The band have been slogging it out in underground obscurity since 2003 but have recently garnered a deal with US label Sensory Records for this, their third album Self Exile. As I’ve never heard the previous two albums I approach this one with a fresh ear.

As with many progressive bands, describing Wastefall’s sound is difficult. The music on offer here varies from periods of straight up metal riffing interspersed with melodic guitar and keyboard passages (E.Y.E., Willow Man) to ambient styled prog rock exercises in melancholy (Strife for Definition, Sleepwalk) to just plain mental jazz-come-flamenco pomposity (Dance of Descent). It’s plain to see that the album certainly does not lack variety.

This variety is a major positive aspect of the album but there are more. In order to pull off having so many different things going on musically you need to have the skill to back it up. The musicianship is on the whole top notch. Each instrument is utilised very well from technical and interesting drumming to beautiful keyboard passages and some pretty awesome heavy riffing. This impressive musicianship allows the band to take the music in many different directions, usually in the space of a song, infusing the whole record with a sense of wonderful unpredictability. It comes off sounding slick and direct at times while at others like barely restrained chaos. This is where personal taste will definitely play a large part as some, like myself, find this interesting and elating while others will simply find it too jarring and without structure.

With everything good however, there usually comes the bad and Self Exile is no exception. My fault with this record which did have a reasonably powerful negative effect is the vocals. Firstly I’d like to make clear that the vocalist Domenik Papaemmanouil (no I can’t pronounce it) is a damn good singer. He’s got great range and a good sound. The problem comes with the delivery. All too often he has a tendency to slip into overdramatic melodrama mode and the vocals come off sounding too emotional. It seems to occur in the slower sections of songs and after a while it really begins to grate. I’m all for an impassioned delivery but at times it just goes too far over the top and is used far too often. If the vocalist could reign it back a bit I think it would improve the bands overall sound significantly.

This is a good release and I’d recommend it to anyone that wants to experience something unusual and experimental but still melodic enough to follow relatively easily. This is a band that could claw their way to the upper pile of the subgenre as long as they can address the oscar baiting vocals. Their sound is not nearly accessible enough to make them a household name, but in the meantime nothings stopping them from chipping away at some boundaries. I hope to hear more in the future.

Killing Songs :
Willow Man, The Muzzle Affectation, E.Y.E. and Another Empty Haven
Al quoted 75 / 100
Ken quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Wastefall that we have reviewed:
Wastefall - Soulrain 21 reviewed by Joe and quoted 85 / 100
Wastefall - Fallen Stars And Rising Scars reviewed by Ken and quoted 70 / 100
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