I like this: to be able to hear and review a national recording artists brand-new CD before the CD even comes out is pretty cool, but actually knowing and having jammed many shows with them makes it all the more personal.
Endangered Species, Flaw's second release with Universal Records is something of a vocal masterpiece, with a vocal style that could be described as Picasso a la Van Gogh. The trademark harmonies and layering of Chris Volz' vocal tracks are done well, perhaps too well, as the emotions sometimes tend to be too strong at times. I said several months back that this album sounded heavier. Sorry, I was mistaken, I admit it.
It sounds better, not heavier. But you people who love their heavier stuff fret not, because they got a few new real good ones for ya.
The first song, "Medicate," is killer. A great opening tune, in the vein of the first CD, but a bit more vocally inspired. The second song and title track, is good. Chris Volz' vocals sound exactly like Kiss' Paul Stanley, but much better and with way more range. He doesn't sound like Stanley on too many of the other songs, but at times, I am transformed back into a 10-year-old Kiss fan by the Stanley-esque vocals. (I'm not the only person who has said this.)
The first single set to be released, "Recognize," starts out slow with a really intricate bass line and develops into a wonderful ballad with a cool kick in the end that I know I will hear on the radio very soon. There is even some piano in the song.
There are a few slow songs that are really mellow and sad. One of my friends, who is a Flaw fan, called the new CD "music to blow your head off by." lol.
The song "Twenty" sounds quite different, with a cool opening guitar riff that really sets this one apart. Quite different from anything I've heard from them.
"You've Changed" is a good heavy tune, but I didn't really care for the clean vocals in the verses. On the other hand, the heavy vocal parts of the song were perfect!
"Final Cry " is also a very good heavy tune: I was instantly hooked. The vocals are astounding on this one, especially in the verses.
The final song on the CD is a ballad called "Decide" that is a very catchy tune. Very, very mellow for Flaw! I think maybe the band's fans that like their heavier tunes may be disappointed by the overabundance of the mellow stuff.
As far as the musicianship is concerned, these guys got it going bigtime. The music on this CD is unbelievably good.
What can you say about Chris Volz voice? Absolutely nothing bad. Personally, I love real singing and note hitting, and this guy pushes himself to the vocal limits. It is a challenge and he doesn't shy away from it in the slightest. Of course, the vocal effects the producer used on this CD are amazing and could make Froggy from the "Little Rascals" sound good!
Guitarist Lance Arny has come a long way on guitar since Shapeless Matrix. He has gotten the groove totally down on writing catchy riffs. Heavy pounding riffs, clean riffs, swelling riffs, jazzy riffs, progressive chording, it's all there. The man can go from brutally heavy to sparkling clean as smoothly as silk.
Bassist Ryan Jurhs is excellent and has a fat, brassy and punchy bass sound. My only complaint is that new drummer Micah Havertape's drums sound kind of weak in the overall mix. I am not saying he can't play, only that the drums sounded thin on the recording. Other than that, whoever did the producing on this CD did an excellent job. Much better sounding than last time around.
Overall, this is a great release. It should move Flaw even higher on the national scene.