India isn't a country that is well-known for metal of any kind, especially not Christian metal (outside of the doom metal band Dalit), but progressive metalcore band Final Surrender seeks to change that with their recent album Nothing But Void. The album is a solid release that will please fans of August Burns Red, As I Lay Dying, and Oh, Sleeper. Like a cake, this album has multiple layers -- so let's eat our dessert one layer at a time, and see what Nothing But Void is all about.
In 2013, Final Surrender released their debut album Empty Graves on Rottweiler Records. While the band has also published other works, including some EPs and singles, Empty Graves was the defining release by the band up until this point and it will serve as a proper litmus test to gauge where the band is at. The first thing to point out is that the production quality on Nothing But Void is considerably improved from the previous album. The instruments, especially the guitars, sound much cleaner and crisper. It's a solid, modern metalcore sound that permeates the record. On the other hand, the band has somewhat moved away from the term "progressive" on the new release. While there are some moments that fall into that category, there isn't nearly as much folk influence on Nothing But Void. It's a good and a bad thing -- sometimes the "folk" moments came across as overwrought and a bit quirky, and sometimes they helped set the band apart from the competition. Overall, my biggest critique of the album is that there are portions that sound a bit too generic. Particularly, the band borrows a lot of influence from Oh, Sleeper on Nothing But Void. It's also difficult to make a lasting statement with only 7 songs.
Nothing But Void kicks it into high octane with the opening title track. Furious drums and guitars contribute to the monolith of sound, and a well-executed retardando towards the end of the song reveals that the band is full of well-versed musicians. The record continues with "Inescapable," whose metallic, sweeping guitar licks immediately bring Oh, Sleeper to mind. It's a solid offering with an excellent melodic interlude mid-song, even if it does overly rely on breakdowns. On to the next layer of the cake. Will it be sweet and delicious, or dry and unappetizing? "Walls of Silence" almost slips into deathcore territory at a couple of points, but the unique aspect of this song is definitely the drumming. Jared Sandhy is a beast on the percussion. However, a few of the guitar riffs on this song fall into the category of "insert generic metalcore riff here," leaving a bittersweet taste in the listener's mouth.
"Exasperate" features some amazing vocals from band member Joseph Samuel. The guitars also shine on this track, creating a syncopated melody that rattle around in the listener's consciousness. It's a favorite tactic of metalcore giants August Burns Red, and it works well here. The fifth layer of our proverbial dessert, "Failing Structures," has an almost post-hardcore vibe to parts of the song. The opening to "Altruistic Veneer" could easily have fit on Haste the Day's Dreamer record, but unfortunately the song slips into a slew of breakdowns that might be great in the mosh pit, but fail to translate to musical originality. Nothing But Void closes with "Tear Down the Walls," and it's a brilliant piece of music. It features electronic elements and creative guitar hooks that are reminiscent of the deathcore band Blood of the Martyrs. This is metalcore as it was intended -- an original take on the fusing of multiple genres.
Having reached the bottom of our 7-layer cake, and sampling from each layer, this critic is at once immensely satisfied and left with a bit of indigestion. Nothing But Void is a proficient album, but it falls a bit behind the creative curve that Final Surrender is known for. Hopefully, next time around the band will release a longer album with at least 10 tracks, and perhaps they will slip a few more "Indian" moments into the mix. Overall, Nothing But Void is a solid metalcore release that shows great promise, but fails to deliver on a few key ingredients.