Sunday, August 24, 2014

Samsara - Into Oblivion (2013)

Musically, Calgary-based four-piece Samsara doesn't appear to borrow from anyone in particular, but vocally, they're a different story. You see, the act's front man, Reed Alton, sounds eerily similar to former Queensrÿche vocalist Geoff Tate and makes one wonder why he wasn't asked to join Seattle five-piece following Tate's dramatic split from the band.

But, of course, one must keep in mind that Samsara is extremely obscure, which is a crying shame considering the effort Alton puts into emulating Tate's vibrato and tone. If you recall, Queensrÿche recruited Todd La Torre for vocal duties within in the last few years and, while he does a good job of mimicking Tate, his attempts don't even begin to match Alton's, which are on the mark every time he opens his mouth. You constantly ask yourself, "Is this really not Tate 20 years younger and with a different band?" Surprisingly enough, it isn't, and what's funnier is that, today, Tate can't hope to match that kind of power. If you've had the "pleasure" of hearing his latest effort, Frequency Unknown (or seeing him live, for that matter), you'll know that time has taken its toll.

As such, Samsara's first EP, Into Oblivion, is magical, despite the fact that it isn't groundbreaking. With precise rhythm and legato chord progressions--particularly in "Emblem Eternal" and "Into Oblivion"--the album is reminiscent of Queensrÿche but only in that Samsara has found a niche to fill, much like the Seattle five-piece did in the mid-eighties. In more ways than one, the Calgary band is similar to Queensrÿche, and the instrumental aspect of the music isn't always the best place to draw comparison. Instead, the resemblance lies in how the songs are arranged and the glue used to hold them together. The guitar riffs transition without fuss from one another, and the drums sit comfortably in the background, avoiding flash that might attract unnecessary attention--yet another parallel to Queensrÿche.

Ultimately, Into Oblivion is an engaging listen, if only for Alton's incredible ability to impersonate Tate. Naturally, the music is very good, too, but there's no denying that the vocals are the focal point here. Is Samsara the second coming of Queensrÿche? We'll have to wait and see, but their next effort should tell all, and hopefully top Into Oblivion with even more Queensrÿche-isms.

-TMA

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