Threat Signal - Vigilance (Nuclear Blast/Riot)

Holy Fear Factory, Soilwork! Someone sound the Threat Signal - Vigilance is coming!

There’s a strange ménage-a-trois that’s formed in the metal community in North America – and it comprises former and current members of Fear Factory and Threat Signal – half from either are in Arkaea, the spiritual “successor” to Fear Factory sans Burton C. Bell and Dino Cezares. This Canadian melodic death metal outfit, groovy and sufficiently heavy, thunders with the rhythmic ferocity of the former, while forging a distinctly melodic, guitar-oriented and vocally unambiguous sound not unlike the current stable of Gothenburg scenesters. So what can one expect from Vigilance, their second full-length record?

Well, the Fear Factory influence is clear from the outset – floating yet growled choruses from vocalist Jon Howard dominate a Southern-style groove and punchy guitar licks. United We Stand sounds eerily like a lost Fear Factory cut; syncopated and bright riffs, coupled with an upswell of pounding drums, round out the basic framework for the track.

The band tries to vary its songwriting up a bit by offering brutally heavy, break-neck speed songs juxtaposed against an acoustic-driven, mid-tempo track (Beyond Recognition and Another Source of Light respectively) that exemplifies their dearth of creative talents and height of musicianship.

Unfortunately, their marriage of melodic death metal, hardcore and industrial influences can only take their sound so far. The awkward filler track Severed is a perfect example: they seem to rehash riffs, haphazardly throw on synthesiser lines while Howard tries to fit all of his lyrics into an ill-conceived meter. In Repair encroaches on Soilwork’s well-trodden territory, while forward-thinking songs like Escape from Reality delight with mind-bending thrash riffs, catching the listener unprepared with small morsels of guitar heroics and dense, memorable licks.

Vigilance, while having the potential for a breakthrough effort, serves up more misses than hits. The resurrected sound of Fear Factory’s industrial-tinged middle period may win over new fans, although others may recoil at its unashamed pilfering of their once-trademark sound. In terms of merited performances, Vigilance possesses some; but not enough of them to make this record truly great.

Threat Signal's Vigilance is out now on Nuclear Blast/Riot.