TIME IS THE ENEMY
This is a rock album which should be of immediate interest locally considering at the heart of Activate are Evan and Byron Chambers, two former Yorkton residents, who may be remembered in the music community as members of the now defunct Things Better Left Unsaid.
Activate is the Chambers latest vehicle, a five-piece band based in Regina (see related story this issue Page B1).
Musically, Activate calls itself progressive, rock, metal, which really suggests just about anything left of the Carpenters, and that isn't so far off the mark with these guys.
There are cuts here, such as The Journey Home – Part II, which are pretty straight ahead metal, not so far removed from the symphonic metal I like so much.
Other cuts, such as Cast of Stone are pretty well just straight driving rock, and frankly the world could use more of that.
Within the varied work here, listeners will hear elements of southern fried rock, blues (The River), and just about everything else. These guys are in many ways a cauldron into which they've poured a bit of everything – heck on The Journey Home – Part II, there is even a segment reminiscent of the sound track to Lord of the Rings – and then pour out something varied, sweet and enjoyable. The band might not like it, but on The Journey Home – Part II, there is even a country feel to the intro.
As you might expect, with the thread of metal through most cuts, there are great instrumental solos here, which are often the highlight of the material.
Vocally, the band is solid, if not extraordinary, with Cody Wilkinson and Evan Chambers taking the lead efforts. Eric Mazden, Andrew Smith and Byron Chambers round out the band.
The question is whether the diversity of style here will win Activate a broader base because it has something for everyone, or whether it will lose fans who can't get into a groove because of the changes of pace? I tend to prefer bands that stay on course with a CD. In fact, I often blast groups for throwing too many change ups because it trends to take away focus. Surprisingly, Activate has served up the differences with enough balance that the ship stays the course.
Yes there are curves here, and yet they maneuver through them smoothly enough the listener can easily navigate this CD, and enjoy it for what it is, something of an experimental effort that delves into everything rock has to offer. Just hang on and enjoy the effort.
I really think Activate has a sound for the times, varied, fresh and held together by strong instrumental efforts.
Check these guys out at www.myspace.com/activaterock
-- CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Jan.9, 2008 - Yorkton, SK. Canada