Derange – ‘The Awakening’ [Review]

Derange - The Awakening

About a month ago, I watched as Derange tore London’s Boston Music Room a new one in the process of opening for underground heavyweights Dorje. To cut short a long story already told in this live review, it was immense. After that show, I had to hear more.

Fans of tech-metal stars Tesseract, Karnivool, and Periphery will feel immediately at home with The Awakening. That said, this is not just another djent-related release to toss on the “Heard It A Thousand Times Before” pile. Derange draw heavily from a vast range of metallic influences, chucking turn-of-the-millennium alt-metal riffs into the mix alongside vocalist Cat Pereira’s fantastically versatile vocals.

Opener and advance single The Thinker pulls out all the stops, the show stolen by a gymnastic guitar solo duelling with Pereira’s ultra-harsh screams. Many metal fans still sneer at bands fronted by women – but the briefest exposure to Derange will have misogynist haters choking on their words. The fact is, as a metal vocalist, Cat Pereira can do it all. Respect.

The Awakening intensifies as Echo and The Observer churn their way through labyrinthine grooves and a pair of anthemic choruses. Dynamically, Derange are a force of nature, injecting adrenaline at precisely the right moments and never ever slacking off. Moving on…

Passive is anything but. Word of warning: you may need a neck brace by the time it’s done. For me, this is one of the best tracks on the album – deep, brutal, choppy, and topped off by a level-up vocal showing. Fuck.

This Is The End brings things down a notch, branching out into expansive soundscapes and rubber-band basslines; the two-part Ruins brings to mind Dream Theater’s Home, equal parts yearning exoticism and no holds barred catharsis; The Negative tackles inner demons head on during yet another highlight run through with top-class lyrics; and The Other Side merges gritty dissonance with ultra-brutal onslaughts and a tense, ruminative, and brilliant bridge section.

Whew. The Awakening is not a journey for the faint-hearted.

Closing the whole thing comes The Awakening‘s title track. Running the longest at five-and-a-half minutes, it sounds like falling down a spiral staircase into that end-of-the-world feeling you get after an awesome album runs its course. By this point, Derange’s Tesseract influence is crystal clear – but hey, Tesseract are sick, so who cares? Intelligent, honest, authentic; you couldn’t ask for more from a metal band, and by the time The Awakening is done, you’re left in no doubt that Derange are the total package.

Overall, The Awakening is a stunning debut. It feels a lot like the first Avengers movie: epic on its own, but also a clear indicator that the bar will be raised in the future. Derange could take their sound in any number of directions – and (as there always is with any creative project) there’s some room for improvement, too. Derange’s masterpiece is still to come – but absolutely owning it on album one is a real rarity, and deserves recognition and respect.

TMMP RATING: 90%

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Derange official website.

Buy The Awakening via Derange’s online store here, and listen via Spotify below.

Posted on 04 January 2016

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