LOWER 13 “Embrace The Unknown”

By Dr. Abner Mality

LOWER 13 is certainly different from any other band on the Pure Steel label. The German label is well known for its resolute devotion to metal’s old school, specializing in bands that sound like they come straight from the 1980’s. That is definitely not LOWER 13, although they do have influence from the classic metal style.

It’s a power trio from Cleveland playing a hard to describe mix of styles. One thing I was surprised to hear a lot of is a metalcore influence from the early 2000’s, when that style was red hot. It mostly comes through in the vocals, which mix clean, almost sweet lead vocals with angry shouts. The choruses do the metalcore deal where poppy vocals alternate with harsh growls. There’s also a progressive thrash feel to some of the tunes, with a lot of chunky, down-tuned chug that is sometimes delivered at a high velocity. Add some screaming solos that could have come from the 80’s and a bit of a US power metal vibe and you have the sound of LOWER 13.

It gives me an odd queasy feeling. I can’t dispute the heaviness of it; the album is really well produced and very thick sounding. Some of those soaring choruses are actually very haunting, especially on “Reflection of Me”, “Last of Our Kind” and “Heal”. At other times, it sounds like AVENGED SEVENFOLD and that leaves a sour taste on my tongue. “Darker Days Ahead” is a dark ballad that starts sappy but builds to a strong climax, while last song “Continue On” is almost entirely acoustic.

It sure wasn’t what I was expecting from Pure Steel. How I feel about these guys almost depends on my mood when I listen to it. If nothing I said above bothers you, then dive right in…