Being able to sound fresh both within metal, and then within your own career, is a hard thing to achieve. So, credit where credit is due, The Browning are still leading the way with their brand of synth-heavy Metalcore. New album Geist (Spinefarm Records) shows the band cementing their sound and even bringing more extremity to the table.
The trade-off between the electronics and the guitars is front and centre once again and when opener ‘Sick Minds’ launches you into the stratosphere you know you’re already in safe hands. The mix of styles is so well honed by now that at certain points this almost feels like a greatest hits compilation. Geist has some of the best songs the band has ever written on it.
‘Beyond Stone’ has some great hooks that really crawl under the surface just waiting for any unsuspecting listener to happen on them. The Browning really do have a knack of creating a backdrop of tension to the walls of guitars. It all comes back to those groovy dance-laden synths, the build-up and then pay off they’re able to give to the songs just elevates things that much higher, bringing to mind legendary acts like Pendulum and The Prodigy who both create massive builds in their music; it’s just The Browning have that added extra something with the heavy guitars and vocals.
There is no wasted time on a Browning song; they obviously have a no filler, all killer kind of approach to the writing never letting the music breathe as they simply continue to beat you over the head, song after song, with unerring force. That is until ‘Awaken The Omega’ comes along. Here, there is a far softer and more considered approach to the music and the inclusion of clean vocals.
It is after this track, though, where matters start to wear a little bit thin, not to the point of becoming boring, but it does all get a bit rinse and repeat. ‘Hellblade’ is tired in composition and sounded like a retread of previous albums and ‘Geist’ suffers and ends up as a slab of generic Groove Metal.
Thankfully, when it comes to closing the album the band pick things up with ‘Skybreaker,’ which is possibly the best song this band has written to date hosting one of the best hooks I’ve heard all year and the vocal performance is simply outstanding, perfectly nailing the quiet/loud dynamic that some of the other songs failed to master.
The production and, more so, the mixing of the different elements is the real icing on the cake as it must be a tricky balancing act trying to make this kind of music sound cohesive and seamless. The electronic parts make the songs that much catchier, and along with the more metal side of the music, helps creates a dynamic that still feels unique to The Browning.