Feeling like an eternal struggle, everything seems so gray
-- Myth of origin --
|■||Marc Van Herpt||Guitars|
|■||Michiel Vand den Berg||Guitars|
Review written by David "Orcish Shredder" Hardy.
The introduction with a word of caution:
Myth of Origin is s a young band from the Netherlands that offers us their first album available on the streaming platforms since January 27th of this year. This band which proposes to "Blending the darkness and heaviness of diverse types of metal with the accessibility found in pop music" has a beautiful project, without doubt a little too ambitious, for the moment at least. The desire is there, the musical qualities too, but something's missing, something that would've made the whole thing truly shine. And that's the overall mixing.
Do you know how to recognize if it's a guitarist who handles the mixing? A guitarist who mixes tends to put the guitars in front of everything while forgetting the low mid and the bass as well as overcompressesing the whole thing, therefore forgetting all the necessary dynamics. And that's what happened to Myth of Origin's "Sane Asylum" album. The big problem is that as a first album, it's inevitably going to have things that don't work at all or which could be optimized in future releases. "Sane Asylum" does not stray from the rule, but this album could've been much more if the mix had been more thought-out and balanced because there's a lot of good stuff in here. In fact, I'd say this album has two layers: the front layer with the guitar and the back layer with all the other musical elements stuffed into one indigestible block.
As for the aformentioned good stuff, Myth Of Origin isn't a band that's easily put into any specific subgenre. They combine a rather radio-friendly modern melodic metal sound with elements of post and progressive metal. The whole thing is presented with genuine power and conviction and mixes upbeat melodies with dark and moody underlayers.
The discovery track by track.
"Sane Asylum" start off with its opening track that features moody drone tunes that gradually expands to include footsteps, whispering voices and electronic beats that all get more intense as the track progresses. Then the album begins for real with "Black Horizon" that mainly features galloping beats with soft spoken vocals and a moody prog layer underneath it all.
The next track, "In my darkest hour" offers an interesting theme: having to live with regret and realizing that you've done bad things that you can't change anymore. A song that's therefore rather melancholic and slowly paced. So far I agree, but at some small moments we get bored, some transitions are a bit extreme and there are some unnecessary repetitions. It's not too annoying either, but due to the mix, you feel like zapping to the next one after 3 minutes. Even the duet with a devilish voice (that we can hardly guess) around 3:35 ...is so little put forward that we can't quite enjoy it! Too bad because for me the end of this song is the best part of the entire album!
The musical change that comes with "Gravity of this matter" is rather brutal and unwelcome. For me, the transition in an album is supposed to be more fluid, which also allows to me to more appreciate the work in its entirety. In addition, I feel the vocals for this track are too clear and joyful for an album with such serious subject matter (mental illness to be specific) and said vocals don't stick with me and it brings me back to the aformentioned mixing problems. The slow break at 2:40 is good, but as soon as it starts again... I don't hang on anymore, the vocal dubbing to me is something to throw violently to the ground and hit it while it moves... it only adds a bad taste.
"Over the Edge" gives the impression of being mixed louder than the others. In fact it's because the synth was added on top of everything else in last minute mode just after the mastering and before the pressing, the idea of the century: "we'll add a synth" ... uhm yes but no in fact, you should have thought about it before because it's put so much in front of everything else and thereforer shifts the balance in power so much that it doesn't fit at all! We feel it all the more when the guitars enter the scene because, hop, that rebalances everyhing yet again. Then the synthesizer returns which, again, gets too much put in front of everything. It's a real pity because it had the chance to open the mix a little but it doesn't do what it was supposed to be doing. Even if you're that deep into mixing you'll more than likely notice the mixing cacophony on display here. This could've been a standout track on this "Sane Asylum" album but it has turned into a beautiful failure!
"The Hunt" is a pleasant little track that features some nice male vocals bellowing below which bring in some weight to this tune. The multiplication of lead vocals on the other hand, no, for me it does not pass. The end on the other hand does make good use of this effect. I've got three things to say about"Screams in my castle"
1: For me there is a small problem of interpretation in this title which is supposed to be dark and a little violent. The emotions that this song want to evoke (rage, despair, anguish, sadism...) are feelings that should be felt alternately at the right moments in this track and it's those emotions that vocalist Caludia has trouble evoking;
2: Especially in this track, the drums stand out as much as a FisherPrice drum rabbit left at the bottom of a closet;
3: this is perhaps my favorite track on the album despite all the criticism I've just mentioned!
"Claim the first born", contrary to Myth Of Origin's own opinion, is a song that doesn't please me more than that. It's a long track and is so guitar-oriented that I've almost got the impression that if there hadn't been any vocals I wouldn't hear any difference. I think it's a pity to put the vocals so far behind in the mix because it's almost embarrassing!
The album's final track, "The Void" is already more open in the mix, even a bit too much! We still keep the guitars in front of the vocals but well, there is an effort not to leave the vocals to rot! That being said, around the 2:20 part I was wondering if there were problems with the vocals (because at moments it sounded like they got cut off prematurely)? At 3:10 what's with the coughing engine change? What is the reason for that? Especially to pass over a quiet moment and resume right after as if nothing had happened? And I have nothing against a fade out, but a 1 minute fade out is way too long for it to have any positive effect, especially when it's the end of an album.
We have to save the soldier MoO!
As you can imagine, I didn't really enjoy my time with Myth Of Origin's "Sane Asylum." Let's be clear, it's a less than joyful feeling that emerges after listening to this album. As much as I can forgive some mistakes that young bands make simply because they haven't got the right people to direct them, in this case, we feel the problems too much. not so much problems within the band or their songwriting mind you, but of how the overall production was handled (recording, mixing, mastering, post mastering, etc.). And that makes my heart hurt for them because they deserve better than this. A lot better.
So here's my advice: go and see them live on stage! Support them and hopefully one day they'll have enough money to return to the studio with someone who will do a good job in making them properly shine. A producer has to be able to tell the band what are things to change and the band has to be able to hear it and work on it. A sound engineer has to make the entire band want to listen to the music, not just put a given instrument in front of the rest of the band and turn the rest into an indigestible paste. I'm sure that all this was made with good intentions, but I'm not convinced of the execution!
Note: If you want it to be a little less painful (without saving the whole mix) I advise you to redo an EQ to give a little more accuracy, again, it is not that will save the mix, but it is less harsh.
Score if we include the mix:
Score if we ignore the mix:
Although I've been harsh on this album because of its horrible production, there's a real potential within Myth Of Origin. They have some good creative ideas and a very profound technique plus they've got a style that's pretty unique to them. If you enjoy modern melodic metal with elements of post and prog then this still is a band worth checking out. Just don't let the mixing demotivate you.