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Amplexus - Deus Ex Machina (Cover Artwork)

Amplexus

Amplexus: Deus Ex MachinaDeus Ex Machina (2007)
self-released

Reviewer Rating: 1


Contributed by: JesseJesse
(others by this writer | submit your own)

There's a reason why many record labels and bands are turning towards alternative business models -- the old ones don't work anymore. In a system full of favors, payola and FM radio, snappy press kits are what caught the eye of the local DJ who had the power to make or break you. Record labels held .
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There's a reason why many record labels and bands are turning towards alternative business models -- the old ones don't work anymore. In a system full of favors, payola and FM radio, snappy press kits are what caught the eye of the local DJ who had the power to make or break you. Record labels held power, influence and had the ability to create the next big thing. Generally speaking, a young band with talent or the promise thereof would be swept up in the big machine, their indie ideals sold out, their credibility ruined and ultimately, they shun the music industry and return to the original passion: being musicians.

Amplexus are a band out of somehwere in Ohio. In between plentiful chugs and screams, they have plently of twinkly guitar lines, mid-`90s melodic rock vocal harmonies and contrived influences. Musically, they aren't extremely diverse, shocking, aggressive or groundbreaking. They are, however, competent musicians, talented performers and accomplished songwriters as evidenced by their complex (yet still predictable) melody lines.

None of that's a problem. Not my bag, but more power to them. I mean, I could go on about the title of this record and its overuse for when people want to sound smart, or the fact that just about everyone likes Frank Miller and Tim Burton so it's sort of a moot point to cite them as influences for your aggro band.

What really tears it is when I'm sent a press package of a CD to review and it comes in a three-fold cardboard case with a detatchable cardboard sleeve and copies of the press sheet printed on the band's own letterhead. If this wasn't distracting enough, I checked the band's MySpace page to try and find a release date and what I was greeted with instead were banner ads for how to buy ringtones of their songs.

Symptoms of a small band caught up with a major label, right? The only problem is that Amplexus is currently unsigned. All this has been out of the group's own pocket. And while it doesn't impact the music on the CD, I can guarantee it's all very distracting.

Understandably, this review has digressed into more of a rant than anything else, but I can't help but feel like all these outside influences actually affect the band's content. Admittedly, their melodic and metal combination was a surefire commercial sound a few years ago when the market started to flood, but these days it sounds like a relic of a bygone era. The chug-chug breakdowns are perfectly placed, the high-pitched vocals are over-affected for emotion, the screams hit the aggressive lyrics like "go away / you don't belong here / we're better off." None of it sounds like passionate musicians trying to play music. All of it sounds like people scrambling to pick up the dropped reins.

Remember when the drummer from Mötley Crüe started a rap-metal band?

That being said, Amplexus feels like they're wrapped up in what they think they should do instead of what they would really like to do. They've created their own PR circus trying to market themselves as a product more than a group of musicians and in the end, it shows.

I don't get much joy out of writing bad reviews anymore. At some point, members of the band are going to read this review, and it might be hard for them to take. So here's my final word: There's potential; there's talent. Take it and run with it, and get rid of anything that doesn't promote your music as an artform, 'cause nobody's making money in this business anymore anyway.

 


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
kliner316 (July 12, 2008)

I thought this album was pretty damn good...

see for yourself.

Jesse (June 19, 2008)

In one final response:

I never said you were in the band, but it's likely that you know the band.

I have over 260 reviews written for this website. Not all of them are negative. In fact, if you sort them by time, you'll have a hard time finding a negative review in the past year or so.

I'm also not young. I'm twenty three, and one of the editors for this website. I've seen 'em come and go, my friend, and you're the only one who really seems to have a problem with this review - all the other comments are exemplary praise.

Again, I stand by my review, and if the other editor's didn't, it wouldn't have been published.

puglife (June 18, 2008)

Again, why I'm wasting this three minutes to respond is beyond me - but I do feel the need to clarify that your indication that someone from the band would disguise themselves to comment on your review shows your level of maturity.

I am from the Akron area and have followed Amplexus for quite some time now. I've watched them pour countless hours into living their dream and I've also seen them make a lot of sacrifices. I would have absolutely no problem with you writing a negative review (not everyone is going to love the same music and I completely understand that) if your review actually pertained to the music. I'm not sure how that point didn't come across in the first comment, but I'll say it again. Review the actual music and I'll absolutely respect that, no matter what your opinion may be.

Also, as a note, I've done a little research of my own and see you have quite the following of people who call you out for being an asshole in your reviews. I know your young and it may seem like the cool thing to do, but take your own path and consider that people do enjoy reading good reviews. You don't have to write negative reviews ALL THE TIME in order for people to read your stuff.

Jesse (June 17, 2008)

If you click on puglife, they don't exactly have a rich history of commenting on the site, and seem to conviently said many of the same issues that the band emailed to me directly about the review.

That being said? I don't get paid anything to do anything on Punknews. No one does. Aubin doesn't get paid. Nothing. Nada. It's all non-profit volunteer work. I get paid to edit a magazine in my local town; I volunteer my time and effort to queue up news stories every day and write reviews.

Writing this review was something I agreed to do because NONE of the other editor's even wanted to touch this album. It floated around in a group email request until I said I would review it. If you request a review of an album through an independent publication, you should be prepared for a negative review, or one that doesn't quite pan out in a direction that you want it to.

I felt I was honest, forthright, and stand by this review.

wallofyouth (June 17, 2008)

i dunno, he seems to have said plenty about the music -- bland, generic, run-of-the-mill ... when you have a million of these bands out there, you have to come up with SOMETHING new to say, and i think jesse said it well. he wasn't even a dick about it this time.

puglife (June 17, 2008)

Typically, music reviews hold some level of credibility with me because they tend to make valid points about the ACTUAL MUSIC. While I understand that even critics wake up on the wrong side of the bed sometimes, under no circumstances do they have any right to criticize the hard work and dedication of a band. If you have a problem with the actual music, that's fine... that's what you get paid to do (and I can't imagine you get paid much, which could be why you're so angry).

Sadly, a review with this little credibility should not even warrant the ten minutes its taking for me to respond to your completely unrelated ramblings, but my respect for this band and their hard work and dedication far outweighs my annoyance.

Here are just a few points that I think you may want to consider if you expect people to actually respect the reviews you write:

1. "And while it doesn't impact the music on the CD, I can guarantee it's all very distracting." This sentence should be the first indication that you are not doing your job. You said it yourself - YOU happened to find some outside things distracting. No one cares. It DOES NOT impact the music, and that is what TRUE music lovers care about. This would be like a food critic saying the food is bad because a plate is the wrong color or shape... or me saying your writing sucks because the font is distracting. I mean... really?

2. "I don't get much joy out of writing bad reviews anymore." I don't even need to comment here.

3. "So here's my final word: There's potential; there's talent. Take it and run with it, and get rid of anything that doesn't promote your music as an artform, 'cause nobody's making money in this business anymore anyway." Here is my final word: You may have some talent hidden somewhere behind this bitter at life response to anything BUT the actual music this band plays. I would recommend digging deep and finding it - then writing actual reviews of the MUSIC since that's why people are reading what you write anyway. Please don't continue writing under the assumption that your job title justifies you making remarks about this band (or ANY bands) hard work, dedication, and passionate attempts and doing what they love. No one has that right and no one will find you credible if you continue to dig around for things to bash instead of actually focusing on the talent you comment on.

wallofyouth (June 16, 2008)

ya, props for review -- verry good, and i agree with everything you said, but it raises a couple questions for me.

as an artist, it's hard to draw a line between what's "art" and what's commerce. obviously ringtones are commerce, unless you're some conceptual cell-phone band (hmm good idea), but does making t-shirts necessarily make your band unfocused on the essence of music? no t-shirt i ever had made music of any sort (hmm another good idea), but they are accepted as a way to supplement the income of bands that are most certainly hard up for cash. meanwhile they help promote the name and an image...

this could be just a case of some relatively wealthy kids trying to have a good time and spread the word with the current technology -- photocopied flyers are SOooOOooOo 80s! at least it's DIY, right? do kids still say that? DIY?

ps. me no likey the music

red_eye_inc (June 14, 2008)

This is a well written review with legitimate grievances and practical advice. Good work.

thereveling (June 14, 2008)

excellent review.

Fishbowlvertigo (June 13, 2008)

When I see someone give a band one star and then pump out an essay-long review, I either just look at the star and not listen to the band or listen to the band and believe the reviewer is being contradictory for putting that much effort into reviewing something they disliked. There'd have to be something good about it that ticked him off.

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