The Maple Room - A Glimpse Of The Inside
Daniel Smith 13/08/2007
In a world where indie bands have been the status quo for quite some time now, it's becoming a rare treat indeed to be sent a brand spanking new alt-metal CD to give proverbial the once over. As you can imagine, being an alt-rock fan I took to reviewing The Maple Room (or the.maple.room as it's displayed on their myspace page, inconsistency fans)'s debut, A Glimpse Of The Inside, with an enthusiasm that turned out to be largely misplaced. It's not that there is anything inherently wrong with The Maple Room - they straddle the already somewhat blurry lines between, emo, metal and alt-punk effectively enough and deliver on the promises laid out by their alt-label clothes and a sextet of dyed fringes. The music sounds professional, polished, and heavy as hell, but its underlying problem is that fact that even during its standout moments, it just doesn't go anywhere.
Opener, 'Sleeping Satellites' kicks off with an impressive metal roar that, while not everybody's' bag, works in context. But when the second vocalist kicks with a somewhat weaker singing voice, it is initially a real turn off because the combination of a banshee roar and emotive crooning takes some getting used to. By the time second number, 'Archives', has kicked in, your ears are expecting this odd vocal synergy and, while I'll stop short of saying 'warming to it', are certainly able to look past it enough to begin to judge the music. 'The Endeavour' begins with full blown thrash and is then punctuated by pleasant melodic breaks and a heartfelt finale. This is undoubtedly the album's strongest track, but even then it is still lacking enough enduring appeal to warrant a second or third listen. The next point of interest, rearing it's head a good ten minutes of largely indiscriminate noise later, is the fifth track, 'Bulletproof Near You'. It shakes the formula up slightly by giving the weaker voice lead duties and the band's sound leans towards a generic, if not unpleasant, take on emo here.
But it's at this point that things begin to go really wrong for The Maple Room. Even the most hard of hearing metalheads will have already noticed that the underlying riffs of the songs so far are very similar, but from the halfway mark onwards the self-plagiarism becomes even more flagrant. As each track from the latter half of A Glimpse Of The Inside passes you by, you find yourself becoming less and less inclined to give The Maple Room the benefit of the doubt. Eventually, it becomes apparent that the band officially ran out of steam at the half way house, and, with your own endurance (and patience) flailing, reaching for the eject button seems like the best course of action.
Despite this anticlimax, A Gimpse Of The Inside leaves you with the impression that The Maple Room have far more potential than is on show here. It's impossible to know why the second half of A Glimpse Of The Inside went so disastrously wrong, but stringent indie-label recording deadlines or entering the studio prematurely with not enough material written seem the most plausible hypotheses. The half-decent material may have done a better job of carrying the rushed stuff had it been spread out more evenly over the course of the album's running time as opposed to being crammed into the opening half. Quite simply, The Maple Room come off as a band not working at full capacity for whatever reason, and while flashes of potential occasionally shine through early on, they are too few and far between for A Glimpse Of The Inside to be able to sustain itself with any kind of consistency.