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At First - Deadline Award winner

At First
by Mark Machlay at 18 February 2020, 4:04 AM

Looking to make their mark on the alternative rock and metal scene, AT FIRST chose to try pushing the boundaries in the progressive areas of the genres via electronic elements, more complex riffs and a variety of vocal styles. They are known to have quite the energetic live presence and earned quite the following by winning several band contests and playing in a variety of venues and festivals such as AFAS Live, Bred Barst and the Hague. They have even shared the stage with well-known bands such as BRING ME THE HORIZON. With their first full-length debut, “Deadline”, they hope to make a name for themselves in the female-fronted alternative rock and metal scene.

They certainly have been able to capture the aggressive feeling of their live shows on this record. Jamie Jochems voice is so diverse and fun to listen to one can imagine she herself could not stop moving in the studio. Major standouts for the diversity of her voice are in the intro screams of “Infinity” giving away to a subtler, gentler style throughout to guttural growls and higher pitched wails of the outro. Going between the slower and heavier sections of “Wanderlust” reminds one of Lizzy Hale. The absolute fun she is having is clear on “Samsara” sounds like a much more mature Hayley Willams. The guttural growls in sections of “More” are even on par with Alissa White-Gluz. It can not be understated the talent and star power they have found in Jochems.

As for the music, there are few duds but more hits than misses. The opening track, “Come Get Your Entertainment” carries on a repetitive, interesting riff and a repeating of the title for much too long and the leads were buried by the effects. “More”, ironically, also suffers from sticking with a mood and riff and becoming bland. It gets better on “Disconnected” displaying an interesting DREAM THEATER-like interlude and the next track “For What It’s Worth” contains a great proggy, chuggy guitar riff in the chorus and enough pinch harmonics to wake DIMEBAG DARREL from the dead.

But once “Infinity” hits, with its spacey intro, djent riffs and electronic droning, the progressive elements seem to come out more but unfortunately seem like an afterthought at times. “Sky” acts as an electronica-inspired, over-indulgent intro to the masterful centerpiece of the album, “Wanderlust”. With its interesting harmonies, versatility in the vocals, juxtaposing chorus, atmospheric interlude and a breakdown that is possibly the most powerfully emotional on the album, it deserves to be released on its own to enjoy. “Turbulence” opens with a drum fill similar to Mike Portnoy’s from the track “Innocence Faded”. It shows the band has a sense of humor with rather hilarious “safety instructions” aboard a fictional “Future Airlines”. It probably has the most energy and possibly the most fun to play live.

The final track, “Change”, being the longest on the album, arguably is the most ambitious. With a poppy, electronic intro that seems tacked on, they jump right into a PANTERA groove with lots of interesting and fun guitar work. With an aching guitar solo, strong rhythmic prowess from the drummer and an added melodic, arpeggiated solo towards the end, it makes one wonder why the band does not open themselves to a longer format to play around in.

In a live setting, these songs would be amazing. Props to Jamie Jochems’ vocal work, fabulous guitar solos from Youri Valentijn and the band in general for venturing into territory not usually tread by the average metal community but some of the progressives elements seem tacked on as an afterthought and others tend to get bogged down with similarity. This would be a strong recommendation for those into female-fronted heavier metal that want to try listening to a slightly more adventurous mainstream metal album.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Come Get Your Entertainment
2. Disconnected
3. For What It’s Worth
4. Infinity
5. Sky
6. Wanderlust
7. Turbulance
8. Samsara
9. More
10. We The Future
11. Change
Jamie Jochems – Lead Vocals
Youri Valentijn – Lead Guitar
Kevin Sneijers – Guitar
Barry Bressers – Bass
Ramses van Rijsewijk - Drums
Record Label: Independent


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