Azure Emote return with their third album, a full-course meal that’s a little tricky to digest in places.
The Third Perspective is a strange one. I’d love it, if it weren’t for a few small problems.
Azure Emote is the brainchild of three musicians, each with extensive experience in the fields of thrash, death and prog. So, as you can imagine, The Third Perspective contains all of these elements. On top of that, you’ll hear an assortment of strings, synths, operatic female vocals, and the occasional brass. It’s an all-star showcase of musical ideas and influences. From the outset, in the pounding opening nuances of “Loss”, it’s clear how talented the musical input is, and the sense of adventure this project provides is refreshing. There is a lot to drink in, and a lot to go back to should you decide to hit the replay button.
The second track, “Curse of Life”, highlights many of the album’s good points, but also exemplifies some of the misfires. The instrumental layers are enjoyable, as are the changes in pace and mood, but every so often, there is a wobble in the arrangement which makes one wonder if there is a little too much thrown in at once. Are violins a justified addition to speedy riffs? Yes, yes and yes again, but in this particular case, I’m not entirely convinced that every violin part works over every guitar part.
I immediately start doubting my own criticisms at the third track, “Dark Realms”, as this is a solid number overall. The initial pieces fit, the song is strong, and as I’ve already said – the boundless creativity is a big draw. Yet, the sense persists that the sprawl of different sounds compromises the overall clarity. I conclude that the manner in which they are piled on one another renders the whole experience a little flat, and in some cases, a little out of key. Once you notice it, it’s kind of hard to un-notice it. Intentional or not, certain parts just don’t seem to work.
Fortunately, “Three Six Nine” enters as a solid highlight, a slick thrash number with a pleasant dose of spacey electronic overlays and synths. Bill Hicks fans will also pick out the iconic stand-up sample, as used previously in Tool‘s “Third Eye”. Continuing on from this, the concluding track “Solitary Striving” starts out as one of the strongest songs of the record, with a genuinely pleasant build-up and a thunderous climax. Yet, as with so many moments before, there is a musical elephant in the room. In this case, it’s the persistent main guitar section, which however you choose to plant it in your mind’s eye – doesn’t really seem to fit.
The Third Perspective is great fun, and I’ve enjoyed the ride every time I’ve listened to it, but I found picking out the flaws unavoidable, which is why this review seems largely negative. It’s not to say that I don’t like sprawling song structures in general, because that’s the one thing I do love. Perhaps the band took the ‘everything-but-the-kitchen-sink’ philosophy a little too literally, or maybe there is a genuine clarity to the music that’s going over my head. If it’s a case of the latter, then my bad. I recognize and respect the labor of love this album represents, and that sense of passion is the first thing you’ll hear. I just think that one last revision of their composition and production would have done it the world of good, perhaps turning it from a nice effort, to a solid masterpiece.