1. Intro 2. Willow Man 3. The Muzzle Affection 4. Dance of Descent 5. Another Empty Haven 6. Strife for Definition 7. Sleepwalk 8. Eternal Yearning Entities 9. Utopia Fragmented 10. 4 Minutes to Abandon 11. Provoke the Divine
Between signing to Sensory Records, being offered a slot at Progpower VII, and releasing ‘Self Exile’, the past two years have been quite industrious for Greek progressive metal group Wastefall. Formed only in 2003, they have quickly released three full lengths and endured a number of line-up changes on the road to their current acclaim and burgeoning success.
Yet, there is a point on the road to legitimate stardom where one can no longer ride the way of promotion and good production. That final obstacle (or requirement, depending on one’s perspective) along the way is the band’s inherent creativity. Some bands are perfectly content to follow a formula and bask in the afterglow of others’ success—others are more individually inspired, and thereby progress not only their own goals but also the standards of the entire genre they perform.
Alas, Wastefall are still trying to decide which side of the fence they’re going to be on. Although ‘Self Exile’ does try, rather well at times, it ultimately amounts to a rough and ordinary handful of Pain of Salvation knock-offs. On entirely its own merits, it is actually not a bad album, as the musicians are skilled, the delivery passionate, and the approach dynamic. But the fact remains that this is essentially based upon the work of Daniel Gildenlöw and his crew, so ‘Self Exile’ will therefore be judged by those same standards; thus, it falls short.
As unoriginal as ‘Self Exile’ is, there are a number of highlights deserving of mention. Pain of Salvation is a lofty group to mimic, after all, so it stands to reason that even the poorest imitation would be passable at least. ‘The Muzzle Affection’ features one of the album’s best vocal passages, a duet between the lead and a female guest leading a progressive, jazzy interlude. ‘Sleepwalk’ is also fairly compelling, discounting the Euro-industrial beat and some melodramatic vocals, and is followed by perhaps the best riff on the album, the opener to ‘E.Y.E.’. This last example thrashes quite impressively, showing the potential Wastefall possess before eventually submerging back into its puppet role.
These few elements do not a masterpiece make, though. Knowing the muse they aspire to, the finished product is quite underwhelming. For those thinking these standards are too harsh, consider that even the promotional material for this album acknowledges its strong resemblance and influence from Pain of Salvation. It seems to accept that Wastefall’s success up to now, an indeed, even their future success, is reliant upon those Swedish forebears. This, to put it bluntly, is simply unacceptable. It is unfair to the fans, Pain of Salvation, and most importantly, Wastefall themselves—they have the technical ability and diversity of talent to create more compelling and unique material than this.
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