Achilles - Achilles (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Achilles (2004)


In ancient Greek lore, Achilles is the half-God/half-mortal hero of the Trojan war, a most skillful soldier fighting on the side of the Greek army. As the legend goes, Achilles' goddess mother, Thetis, dipped Achilles in the river Styx, found amongst all bad 80's music, in the underworld. Achilles thus became invulnerable, save the spot on his heel where his mother held him. Now, how does all of this tie in to the self-titled debut offering from New York's Achilles? It doesn't, really, I'm just fascinated by Greek mythology. As for the record, though, it does appear to be a solid metalcore album, but as with many of its contemporaries, it's not without shortcomings.

The Achilles EP is only 5 songs, two of which are instrumental, but in that time you really get the feeling that it offers a full grasp of what the album would sound like had it been fleshed out into a full-length. The intro is an ominous-sounding one, with a repeated acoustic strum and some very dissonant guitar that comes and goes every 10 seconds or so, and then quickly you're launched into the first track, "Smoke & Mirrors," which shows Achilles at their most fine-tuned and intense. It's on the shorter end of things, but length isn't imperative for a band like this to really showcase their skills. The guitars are perfect for this kind of music: fast, but not overly technical. The music doesn't get bogged down by too many time signature changes, and things just flow nicely. The drums sound full and they hit with power, and the strength of the bass is evident as well, although its role is much lesser than the other components. The one time that each instrument does get a bit of time to shine is on the second instrumental track.

It's not one of the album's longer tracks, but for what it is it gets into a pretty solid groove, leading into the album's last track, the Kevin Bacon-inspired "Let's Dance." This track, however, serves as a perfect example of how indiscriminate this band can really be. There's some inventive riffs, solid bass playing, good drumming, but the vocals, passionate as they may be, could just as easily belong to 100 other lead singers in the genre. True, there's only so many ways a voice can sound during a scream, but this is the default metalcore band singer's voice. It's not bad; it just gives the listener such an indifferent attitude.

"Why should I buy your album, and not Evergreen Terrace's? What makes your album different from Curl Up And Die's?" There really isn't a good answer if that question is ever posed, and therein lies the dillemma many of these bands face. Go against the grain, and possibly alienate all listeners, or with it, and blend in to the crowd.

Well, Achilles blend. Unfortunate, as with many metalcore bands, they do show musical promise, and the thought that maybe they can branch out into something more. I can't hate on a band for playing their style well, but the only potential factor that would make me buy this album is a coin landing tails up.