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Sad Veil of Tears
artist: Fearful Symmetry
label: Retroactive Records
9tracks / 42:15mins
The band name is new, but the man driving the band is one of our all-time metal faves. Jimmy P. Brown II, from speed metal pioneers Deliverance, has taken a couple old band mates (Emmanuel Morales, Rick Mester) and gone down a bit of a new direction with this latest release. Actually, Brown has been on this avenue for years, moving into a Bowie influenced industrial rock sound that still carries some of the Deliverance crunch. This record sees it all come together.
Brown sings even more like Bowie on This Sad Veil of Tears_, and that's all for the good. His voice is mostly tender and well behaved as he adds multi-layers of vocals with harmonies and effects. The songs are full of heavy guitars, melodic vocals, and drum machines. The first two ingredients are consistently fine, but occasionally the drums are a problem. The disco beats and bass drumming annoy when they don't match the grind of the guitars or the industrial touches throughout the record. But when all three elements square, this record is solid.
The record starts with a good song called "White," but it has some of that disco annoyance I mentioned earlier. But from there, "Binah" is a straight metal ballad sung with Bowie-like inflections over Brown's guitar chops. The next song, "Lead Us," is a slow rock prayer. Brown keeps the album interesting with inventive vocal melodies and nice effects pushing the well crafted, understated spiritual lyrics over industrial/rock tunes. The record finishes with an ambitious rocker called "Black."
"Fearful symmetry" is a line taken from a William Blake poem that speaks of the design of an awesome God. It's also the name of an album by Daniel Amos, a confessed influence of Jimmy Brown. Now it's the name of a Jimmy Brown band that is looking for perfect balance, harmony, and symmetry. Although this debut is a good record, it does not fulfill the potential this band has for that symmetry. One hopes Brown continues to fine-tune those elements and next time out puts together a more balanced, hard, new industrial masterpiece.
Tony LaFianza 8/10/2003