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Lower 13 - Restore the Order

Lower 13
Restore the Order
by Sean McGuirk at 15 June 2019, 5:20 AM

Cleveland’s LOWER 13 formed in 2006, playing a groovy mix of Prog and Metal, similar to acts like LAMB OF GOD, SYSTEM OF A DOWN and TRIVIUM. There’s a strong Djent-like bottom end, with the requisite MESHUGGAH-lite stop-start shotgun riffs and open string chugging that supply the rhythmic backbone. What sets this trio apart, however is a nuanced feel for melody and strong clean vocals, perhaps due to a love affair with more traditional Prog acts like RUSH. Who says RUSH can’t save modern music?

I may be crazy, but I hear Geddy’s influence in Patrick Capretta’s clean vocal melodies, on the single “Leads to Fate, especially. Capretta does what so many forgettable modern Extreme Metal artists fail to do: connect with the audience. He’s not particularly gifted vocally, but it doesn’t matter as the delivery is spot on.  On “Weight of the World,” bassist Sean Balog plays with some nifty finger-tapping akin to GOJIRA’s “Oroborus,” but the real star of the song is its chorus, a tune that will stick with you hours after listening.

The chugging interplay between Eric Kruger’s relentless double-bass drums and Capretta’s palm-mutes can grow tiring after a while, as it does on songs like “Shooting Star” and “Monster.” “Set Hate Free” doesn’t have that problem, however, as the frenetic energy on display recalls SYSTEM OF A DOWN.  The array of vocal styles on display, as well as their interplay with the music is quite impressive. Album highlight “Find Your Peace,” uses lilting vocals in the verse that vault the song into an ethereal stratosphere, while remaining effectively heavy. “No Answers” and “Waiting” mix so many different styles, from Thrash to Art Rock and everything in between, while still keeping a melodic core.  “Force of Nature” is a down tempo moody track with a crispy spotlight solo for Capretta.  The breakdown-heavy “Unclear” expresses frustration in a fairly straight-forward Metalcore stomp.  “Spotless Mind,” brings back the melody—and the RUSH influence—with a minor-chord infused epic, that has a brilliant mid-section that showcases Balog’s bass playing and the band’s ability to create a soundscape without resorting to the chug.

The album closes on this near-perfect mix of modern Melo-Death and Prog, a sonic direction that I would take another whole album of, as it’s more up my alley than some of the more standard groove metal songs on the disc. The album gets tiring in its assault, but it also feels like an achievement in redefining how Prog can fit into this kind of extreme music. As this is the band’s first label release, there are some frayed edges to be found, but once refined, there’s no telling how far these three dudes from Ohio can go.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Swallowed by Light
2. The Shining Star
3. Leads to Fate
4. Weight of the World
5. Set Hate Free
6. Awaken the Monster
7. Find Your Peace
8. No Answers
9. Waiting
10. Force of Nature
11. Unclear
12. Spotless Mind
Patrick Capretta - Guitar/Vocals
Sean Balog - Bass/Vocals
Eric Kruger - Drums
Record Label: Pure Steel Records


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