Discerning Forces


Nuclear Blast Records, 2000


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Everyone in the death metal community is calling attention to a band called Opprobrium - mainly because the band changed their name from Incubus due to the alternative band of the same name. They are fighting to get the word out that this is the same band, led by Brazilian-born brothers Francis and Moyses Howard, that has been grinding out tunes for 14 years.

Yet after listening to Discerning Forces, the latest disc from Opprobrium (and first under their new moniker), one has to wonder if the music lives up to all the hype. The answer? No, it doesn't... but that doesn't necessarily make this album bad.

Oh, I don't want people to think that Discerning Forces is a terrible disc. The brothers Howard - guitarist/vocalist Francis and drummer Moyses - do an admirable job on this album. Taking into account that Francis handled all guitar and bass parts for this disc also makes me want to stand up and cheer for the flexibility these two musicans have. (It should be noted: bassist Andre Luiz Oliveira was added during the sessions for this disc, and guitarist Luiz Carlos was a member of the band, but according to Nuclear Blast's web site, did not play on this disc.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Yet when compared to the plethora of death metal bands out there on the market, Opprobrium doesn't do much more to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Sure, Francis Howard's shouts are more understandable than the traditional growler of this genre. And it might be narrow-mindedness on my part, but I kept waiting for Moyses Howard to really let loose on his drum kit and reduce it to splinters. Alas, that did not happen; the drumming is powerful, yet controlled. Somehow, I feel a little less control should have been the order of the day.

Musically, Discerning Forces also doesn't do much to pull itself to the top of the heap. It's not that tracks such as "Escapism," "Unclean," "Merciless Torture" or "Blood Conflict" are bad - indeed, they're not. But these tracks just have a feel to them like the listener has heard this all before. For a band who's been doing this as long as they have, I would have expected a little more from Opprobrium.

Some people might want to blame the name change for this musical effect; I doubt that was a factor at all regarding the songwriting. The only thing that's changed is where the discs will be positioned at Best Buy; the brothers Howard kept using the same mold and forged ahead. I'd be lying if I said I knew what they should have done differently that would have made Discerning Forces a more powerful disc. But not tampering with their musical formula, in retrospect, seems like it was the correct move.

Discerning Forces is sure to please death metal fans, though even they may grow a little bored with the content on this disc. Opprobrium has done a lot of work to call attention to who they really are. Now, they need to refocus their efforts and figure a way to let their music speak for them.

Rating: C

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Nuclear Blast Records, and is used for informational purposes only.