ARTIST: OF OUR DESIGN

TITLE: UTOPIA

LABEL: SELF-RELEASED

RATING: 7/10 

WORDS: ZAK SLOMAN

With their 2015 debut EP, ‘Fleshbank’, Essex five-piece Of Our Design showed that they were unafraid to blend the contrasting musical styles of metalcore and electronica, in order to create a sound that was effective and coherent. Now, three years on, the band attempt to achieve this once more, albeit on a much grander scale, with their new release.

Entitled ‘Utopia’, the quintet take the listener on a seven-track journey with the final destination being the ultimate personal paradise. However, it’s not all plain sailing, as it is a trip fraught with suffering and sacrifice. It is worth it, though, as the listener goes on a 23-minute journey of self-discovery, learning about how to stand up for themselves, others, and what they truly believe in.

“a 23-minute journey of self-discovery, learning about how to stand up for themselves, others, and what they truly believe in.”

The journey begins in earnest straight from the off, with opener ‘We Are The Flame’ beginning with a loud, aggressive roar, which, at first, seems to give off the impression that this is going to be pretty much a carbon copy of their last offering, but it becomes clear, as the song moves forward, that this won’t be the case.

Pulsating guitar riffs, chunky bass lines, pounding drum beats, and a hoarse, gritty vocal delivery are still very much the order of the day, however, those elements have simply been built on a sonic electronic base that switches from being rather subtle to dominant with each track. This also goes for the melodies and clean vocals, which for the majority of the release, tend to play an effective second fiddle, but become firmly in charge for song six, ‘Citadel’.

The clean vocals are also noticeably grittier, and delivered at a slightly more faster pace, with previous number ‘Smoke & Mirrors’, which fits in well with its brief atmospheric, rather melodic moments.

“an effective showcase for how Of Our Design have matured”

For finale ‘Angels & Demons’, the heaviness, intensity, and aggression are turned firmly back up to maximum volume, the electronic melodies still feature, but only on a very subtle basis, resulting in a track that is anthemic, and has seemingly been tailor-made for the moshpit, with the addition of fierce chanting. However, this song has an important moral message lyrically, as having finally found utopia, the band leaves it up to the listener to decide whether they want to keep it like that, or make a complete mess of things.

Overall, ‘Utopia’ is an offering that, with better-crafted compositions, more thought-provoking lyrical content, and further dynamic musical elements, acts as an effective showcase for how Of Our Design have matured, both as a collective, and as individuals, over the past three years, and should see the band make a bigger impact on the British metal scene.

 

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