Album Review – The Prestige – “Amer”

The Prestige
(Imminence Records)

Capturing the sound and atmosphere of a live show is no easy task, however, the sophomore release of the alternative hardcore quartet, The Prestige, seems to have found a way to make it work. Amer is gritty, distorted, harsh and wonderfully reminiscent of the flawed sounds coming from the subpar audio system of your local basement venue.

This French quartet hail from Paris, and thus display a much rougher life than typically associated with the city of love. The overall unrefined aesthetic of Amer is perhaps the first thing the listener will pick up on as it really is anything but polished. Feelings of soot, grime and dirt under your fingernails all ooze from the blaring guitar riffs packed into this record.

For the most part, I can describe Amer as a pretty solid, anger-driven hardcore effort. Hell, the name of the album is even French for “bitter,” though it does have bizarre moments in which it stems from Robert Smith-like vocals and Dimebag Darrell grooves (“Leger De Main”) to western twang (“Ingenue”) and even to tracks that sound like Bono’s rejected U2 demos (“Petite Mort”).

Drummer Thibault Cavelier anchors almost every track with innovative and cohesive licks, fills, and back beats filling out the spine for the entire piece–“Negligee” being his most promising effort at a full six minutes and 20 seconds. The guitar work, too, split between Raphael Jassin and vocalist Alex Diaz, also draws in the intrigue of the album. “Voir Dire” and “Cri De Coeur” create amazing outlets for the riff work that actually sound of a higher quality production value than the rest of the album overall.

Amer falls flat, however, when it comes to the cohesive continuity of the work. The vocals are muddied and at times it’s difficult to make out whether the words are in French or English. The volumes are off, too, unfortunately making the guitars and drums stand out far more prominently than Diaz’s croaked out notes. While this does recreate a rather genuine sound and vibe of a live show, it’s a little disheartening when the album includes echoed whispers (“Enfants Terribles ) and melodic backing chants (“Apaches”) that realistically would never be present at a show without the help of well-timed back tracks.

All in all, The Prestige stay loyal to the classic hardcore mindset throughout this record with a real ambiance of good old, straight up thrash rooted in the band’s personal mindset: bitterness. If they keep this up, their following records are guaranteed to flourish. (Natasha Van Duser)

Purchase Amer here.

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