[3rd January 2014]
02. Defenders Of Oasis
03. The Kraken
05. Hollow Grams
06. Viktor Frankl
07. Three Laws Of Neurotics
09. Zero Tolerance
10. Mother’s Nature
Dave McPherson is a busy man. With a workload that already comprises long-standing alt-metallers InMe and extensive solo work, he has somehow found the time for Centiment and their self-styled ‘gamer metal’.
But whilst the spotlight inevitably falls on the lead singer, it would be fair to point out right from the get-go that fellow InMe members Greg McPherson and Gazz Marlow are also part of Centiment. Indeed, the case could well be made that Centiment is more Greg’s baby than anything else. He has swapped his bass for guitar, and written all of the music, leaving Dave to focus purely on his vocals.
Streets Of Rage has been funded by a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign via Pledgemusic, which has become that Standard Operating Procedure for the InMe family (in every sense) of musical projects. The campaign for Streets Of Rage reached its target amount in the very first hour of accepting pledges, and ultimately collected more than 600% of that target by the time it closed its doors. Remarkable.
Through the updates on the campaign, pledgers were also treated to more than sixty tracks of varying levels of completion from Centiment’s long gestational period that saw a number of different line-ups and configurations, with Greg handling vocals and guitars and Dave picking up the drum sticks, before settling on the final line up that includes drummer Mark Shurety and bass player Neil Howard alongside the three InMe guys.
The faith of the pledgers has been well-rewarded, because Streets Of Rage is a blast. A markedly heavier proposition than anything these guys have been involved with to date, guitars are downtuned and palm-muted, the double-kick pedal dusted off and there’s plenty of throaty bellowing. The ‘gamer’ aspects of the sound most immediately manifest themselves in a near constant accompaniment of bleepy, sixteen-bit style synth lines.
The net result is a heady, high-energy cocktail that comes across like Fear Factory fighting Muse over a Sega Megadrive – and it is tremendous fun.
Some might, understandably, be a little reticent about the notion of ‘gamer metal’. Despite the video game industry now outpacing Hollywood in terms of earning potential, it is still seen by many as being the preserve of geeks and nerds. Such fears can be proved to be groundless with a single listen to Streets Of Rage. There was definitely a risk that the synthy, chip-tune elements could have come across as grating and gimmicky, they have been comfortably absorbed into the sound. Often mirroring the guitar lines in a manner that throws a nod in the direction of Devin Townsend, they provide a sleek, futuristic sheen to the tracks that helps them stand apart from the pack.
Whilst gaming allusions pepper both the music and the lyrics, prior knowledge of them is not a prerequisite for enjoying the tracks – although they may well raise some wry smiles from hardcore gamers; particularly those that cut their gaming teeth in the nineties.
And then there are the choruses. Oh my, the choruses. Early in the album there is a run of three songs – “Defenders Of Oasis”, “The Kraken” and “Acheron” – that carry choruses big enough to be visible to passing comets. Just one of these tracks would have been enough to turn heads, but three in a row leaves the listener with multiple earworms scrapping for attention. It is in these heartfelt, soaraway melodies that Dave really stamps his identity on the tracks, as well as showing off the considerable songwriting talents of all involved, honed through years of prolificacy.
Perhaps due in part to the multi-project manner in which those involved operate, Streets Of Rage is particularly focused. There are no momentum-sapping ballads or interludes to be found here, just fifty three minutes of strong, high energy tunes that carry an infectious sense of fun. Centiment’s heaviness seems to be born not of angst-ridden demon-wrangling, but from an exhilerating adrenaline buzz, similar to the button-mashing frenzy of defeating an end of level boss.
Its hard to pick out stand out tracks, but opening track “S.O.S.” sets the tone perfectly, whilst “Bloodshot“, with its strident call of “I like a drink, motherfucker” and “The Kraken’s” “Get up mate, its just a flesh wound” show clearly there’s nothing particularly po-faced about Centiment.
If there is a danger facing Centiment now, it is one of falling between two stools. The melodious choruses may be a step too far into pop territory for the br00tal kids, and the extra grunt might be a bit much for fans of the somewhat gentler InMe work. But, for those who draw enjoyment from right across the musical spectrum, Streets Of Rage will be both a surprise and a delight. Gamer metal was a bit of an experiment, and the results have been startlingly successful.
The band are now gearing up to play their debut UK tour, and the additional heft given to any track played with skill in the live environment should make those shows a deeply pleasing experience, for band and audience alike.