Customer Reviews: Slavior
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on November 5, 2013
Formed out of the ashes of Fates Warning in 2006, Connecticut's Slavior emerged with a debut in 2007. Armed with the instrumental chops that came along with being involved in that legendary other band, and a production job, Slavior are not exactly fighting an uphill battle. But still, even when taken on its own terms, this eponymous affair shows a boatload of potential, what with the super-dexterous Mark Zonder providing the excellent drum work, and the guitarists ripping out a handful of surprisingly good solos. (What is most impressive about these solos, though, is the fact that they are surprisingly varied and progressive -- you will very rarely ever hear the same one twice.)

As a result of all of this, Slavior posses s a sound that should perhaps be best described as nu-ish progressive metal, as it falls somewhere between Fates Warning, Tool, and Rush mixed with some Sevendust, Deftones, Helmet, and Faith No More-influenced elements. But before this review comes across as too gushing, let it be known that this band encounters a few snags over the course of this ten-song set. This usually comes from bogging down too heavily in nu-metal-inspired territory, and sometimes from just being too -- if not generic -- un-unique-sounding. But no matter what the case, the fact remains that the songwriting is always clearly still a work in process, and once the band hammers out the finer details involved with it, then the sky will be the limit for them.

"Slavior" opens with a surprisingly heavy and hard-hitting metal note in "Origin," which is fueled by sludgy, downtuned riffing, a stoner metal-derived guitar tone, pounding, driving rhythms, and crashing drum beats. Some memorable vocal patterns, including some really catchy choruses, are also included, here, as a proggy string section that is promptly followed-up by a blistering, screaming guitar solo. As such, "Origin" might have nu-metal-ish vocals and lyrics, but overall, it is far from being a nu-metal song. And "Shatter" is an apt follow-up in that it is equally as good, thanks to it boasting excellent, jazzy, and dexterous drum fills not just in its intro, but throughout the whole track. Some interesting, funky bass lines and an adherent main groove also pepper the arrangements, here, as do some pretty backing guitar harmonies.

From its textbook nu-metal intro to its meaty guitar riffs, terrific hooks, and nu-ish angst, to its soaring melodies, and radio-ready clean singing, a strong nu-metal vibe lurks throughout "Swept Away." But "Altar" atones for this fact by boasting an epic scope and really bright and colorful melodies created by nicely textured string arrangements, soft, supple crooning, Soulfly-esque tribal beats, and Rush-like swing. Then comes another venture into nu-ish territory as "Another Planet" has a strong, Godsmack-ish grungy undertone to it and lurching, Disturbed-influenced grooves. But the tune's beefy, churning guitar hooks, prominent, ear-grabbing bass lines, and excellent, proggy, soaring guitar solo compensate for any shortcomings. Some progressive, Rush-like choruses don't hurt matters, either.

Aside from some catchy, single-ready clean singing and synth-abetted choruses in the latter, nothing really stands out very much in "Deeper" or "Dove," two pieces of generic, run-of-the-mill modern hard rock. But then the album storms back with the title track, which is fairly interesting right from the get-go, thanks to its use of heavy, dark guitars, solid, steady bass work, and thundering drums offsetting a soaring melodic choruses and some tastefully-used tribal percussion. A ripping, and very flashy guitar solo is also dropped into the mix, here, thus helping to make the arrangements even more dynamic.

"Give It Up" is an up-tempo and certainly very unusual mix of hard rock, alt metal, prog rock/metal, and hip-hop -- yes, you read that right: Hip hop (!). Fortunately, the number's blistering guitar soloing is its saving grace; it's what prevents it from becoming a piece of 100% pure Sevendust worship. The record then closes in not-too-hard-rocking fashion, with "Red Road" being a fairly bland piece of power balladry that practically has "saccharin sweet" and "modern rock radio" written all over it. But with that having been said, there are some virtuosic, prog-ish, and exceedingly technical guitar solos included, here, thus making the song well-worth hearing at least once.

As you can see, "Slavior" is a mixed an uneven affair. But it has more than a couple promising moments, and even great songs that clearly point towards the fact that the band is headed in the right direction. It attests that this band has not been able to reach their full potential, but they almost surely do it the next time around. So now the only question is: Where the heck is the follow-up, guys?
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on July 31, 2013
All songs were phenomenal, they were catchy and had distinct genres in with another. The singer was awesome singing, the range and melodic aspect throughout the album was amazing. Zonder's drumming was great and the guitar work was well done as well. Very awesome debut from a very underrated band.
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on June 14, 2007
I'm a long-time fan of Fates Warning and Tribe of Gypsies. If you are looking for a disc that sounds like FW or TOG, the influences are very subtle, but they're there. I am very impressed with this disc. I rarely change it out in my disc player. Wayne Findlay is one of the best guitarists I've never heard of. Mark is especially adventurous in this project. Gregg is an extremely underrated singer and song-writer. I hope they get the play they deserve.
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on June 27, 2010
I think its a really really solid album. I do not love every song, but the songs I do love, I LOVE. Very interesting beats, good guitars, and very unique vocal tone. They stand out. I can see where fans of full on progressive wouldnt find enough of what they like in it... but if you are a fan of metal... old or new school there is definitely something here for everyone. I find this much MUCH more listenable than things like Dream Theater or Fates Warning, because the songs are good, catchy, melodic and memorable. The skill of the playing is there but the songs are the focal point. Another Planet alone is worth the purchase... great song.
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on January 20, 2009
This CD Rocks from start to finish! The songwriting is excellent with great melodies that stay in your head. The overall musicianship is top notch! I wish there were more guitar solos but the ones that are there are outstanding. More music in this vein should be coming out these days. Great job dudes I am looking forward to the next one!!
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on April 27, 2007
Slavior rocks. For those of you who aren't familiar with the band. Greg A. is former singer for Seventh Sign who didn't get alot of commercial success but were very good. Kinda Queensryche-ish, but I dig Queensryche, so that's a good thing. He did some work for Tibe of Gypsies too. He has great pitch and a very smooth voice. Wayne Findlay played for MSG and a few others, this guy rips. He does some cool seven string stuff, not just chugg-chugg-chugga stuff either. M. Zonder of Fates Warning is a killer drummer, very precise and methodical. The songs are different. Dove is kinda reggae like with a twist. Alter starts with some cool acoustic stuff. Red Road is probably the pivotal moment, deep lyrics, good progression, the end has a really cool native american thing going where Greg does a killer job, I don't know what he's saying, but I feel the dude whatever it is. These guys are differnt, not clones and that's cool. Check it out.
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on May 15, 2009
Prog metal fans unite!Has to be heard to be believed.I can't believe this slipped under my radar.
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on May 14, 2007
I have beena big fan of Mark Zonder from his Fates Warning recordings so I bought this one based on Mark's participation. I've yet to make it all the way through in one sitting, it's just not my style. This sounds more like the "angry-white-boy music" I hear on the new rock stations with lots of growling vocals and heavily distorted guitars.

Mark's playing is still excellent and innovative but I can't get past the rest of the noise going on around him to enjoy it. The mastering must have been done on speakers with woofers becuase the bottom end on this disc is pretty heavy bordering on muddy.
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on April 3, 2007
Slavior is poised to become Inside Out's oddball band, considering there is nothing progressive about their songs in one way or another. But Fates Warning fans have no right to complain -- drummer Mark Zonder, around whose rhythms and grooves these songs were built, has stated right from the get-go that Slavior was formed in order to display his take on modern rock, mixing in wide-ranging elements including reggage, grunge, and even hiphop. Along with MSG guitarist Wayne Findlay and former Tribe of Gypsies vocalist Gregg Analla, the band churns out a curious mix of styles, always focusing on vocal-based, sing-along numbers and never sacrificing basic songwriting ideas in favour of challenging instrumentation.

The vocals of Gregg Analla is central to all of the songs on this debut. While Analla's voice will be the make-it-or-break-it factor to many, he certainly fits the bill, given the intentions behind this project. Having penned mostly angst-ridden lyrics, he does a fine job coming up with strong vocal hooks, and provides an array of vocal styles. He does the rapid-fire spoken hiphop-style vocals; he opts for lower registers; he offers big, riotous choruses, but most importantly, he does a lot of harmony vocals, even on the simplest, most direct cuts. The multi-layered vocal attack at the end of "Swept Away" comes across rather challenging (though wonderfully easy to enjoy) considering the song's otherwise commercial vibe. It is filled with a memorable main melody and deeply grooving rhythmic undercurrent. Similarly, the title track has Anella singing like a hiphop guy at one point, but as Findlay cuts through the piece with a dirty lead solo, the song quickly makes a return to its visceral rock roots.

Mark Zonder is still the greatest drummer in the world -- and his fans from Fates Warning will not be disappointed a second listening to him. The intro of "Shatter" is mindblowing: those fills, the strong rhythmic power, and the excellent groove are all what set him apart from every other drummer out there. This song, unlike others, also boasts a cool acoustic breakdown and some keyboard-generated atmosphere towards the end which is an interesting listen. A personal favourite of mine is "Altar": it begins with cool percussion and takes on a slightly Rush-like feel with its neat arrangement and intense vocal attack. Traces of reggae permeat the considerably heavier "Another Planet", and the song even features a slight electronic sound attachment to it as well as some aggressive vocal lines. Findlay finds the chance to prove how capable a soloist he is on "Give It Up" where he lets out streamrolling electric riffs.

The last track "Red Road" stands out from the rest of the album for its eerie string intro, acoustic melody, and static drum beat. After the song plays out, there is a brief silence before the keys return, with weird percussion heard distantly in the background, and Analla relates a poem in a different language before starting this killer vocal harmony -- simply killer. It is this song and the radio-friendly "Dove" which must garner Slavior some airplay, as both songs are imbued with infectious pop choruses, stuff that dominates radio and MTV these days.

However, whether MTV is willing to give these guys a chance given their respective prog leanings remains to be seen. For what it is, this debut album has certainly reached its goals.
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on January 10, 2009
Exactly what I wanted to hear from this full-sounding trio, good, hard-edged rock! Until about 2/3 of the way through, then they add in a rock/reggae track, which is, well, not my kind of thing.
Some good tunes, definitely worth a listen - try it before you buy it.
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