Dual is a band of four Finnish fellows. It hasn't existed for a lot longer than a year, but it seems that the group is very inspired as they had already made one demo prior to his EP, and both of these releases feature a wholly different set of tracks.
The quartet proclaims to play "Demi Metal," which they explain to be a mixture of different subgenres of metal and rock, and then some. There is some truth in this description, although the basis of the band's expression seems to be laid on the classics of older Metallica, Pantera and Megadeth. The songs range from mid-tempo thrash (and proto-thrash) to some faster primitivism and groovy sections with more modern influences in their riffs (and bass-drumming). The songs seem simplistic enough to be easily likeable, yet have well enough variation and catchy groove to remain interesting for a multitude of spins. The acoustic outro with cheesy background synths is a bit useless, though, but I guess it's better to have a cheesy outro than a record with an abrupt end.
The two guitars and bass are all employed really well in the compositions; each instrument has their own well-handled responsibilities, yet they don't try to outshine each other. The EP's overall sound is nicely organic, balanced and rough without seeming unnecessarily crude. I'm really happy about the loud bass-sound as well, as it's all too rare these days.
The main issue I have with this EP is the vocal section. They're mostly spoken in a quiet and threatening voice, and partially shouted in a distubing manner. The vocals have a lot of emotion, but the spoken vocals make the songs seem a lot more slow-paced than they really are, and they're so loud in the mix that they take an unnecessary amount of attention from the instruments when present.
I understand that the band wanted to try out some more original and even atmospheric options with the vocals, but I found them to flatten the music's edges and roughness. The music would definitely benefit from simpler and faster vocals, and especially from ones that are a little quieter in the mix. There are some really nice choral shouts that partially hide the lead vocals' flaws, but for me that wasn't enough.
The lyrics are pretty decent in their descriptions of collapsing minds, lunacy, violent deaths and aggression. It's all usual thrash-imagery, but they still do their part. The digipack itself looks pretty good and the colours are eye-catching. The layout seems to be designed with simplisticity and functionality in mind, and I like it even though the cover image itself is a bit silly in my eyes.
Dual's music sprouts from a soil of deep-rooted traditions, but despite their roots and band's young age they already have a rather original, functional and, most of all, appealing style. I'm just baffled by the vast chasm between the modern vocal-styles and more oldschool sound and compositions, which leaves me uncertain if this is a demonstration of what the band's aiming for, or just a prototype of more complex things to come. That being said, the band's style could be more unified and cohese to make the EP more of a thought-out whole than "just" a collection similar songs, and the rhythmic bits could have more hooks and pure force in them to cause instant moshing amidst the listeners.
On the other hand I'm highly fond of this EP, but on the other it's appeal is rather passive; it sounds pleasing, but is not addicting. There is still work to be done, but nonetheless Dual is on to a good start.