Each of the 10 songs is firmly entrenched in the "painfully scream until your uvula bleeds" school of nu-metal, and the grinding guitars back it up. Most of the songs are fast-paced so as to invigorate your pulse, but Suarez never leaps full out into thrash. The highlight of the album is definitely the drumming, as it is complex, varied and tight. However, the songwriting itself often takes steps outside the usual genre fare with invigorating results. For instance, in "Thought" the usual caustic vocals take a break long enough for spooky orchestral strings to change the mood and throw a curve at the listener. "Rise" adds a more traditional song structure along with clean vocals for contrast and a final, deep groove that rocks out the lyrics of "Come together, it's time to rise." Oriental-sounding keyboards and the audio of running water augment the hardcore rap of "You're Going Down," and the bipolar "Everything" switches between clean guitars backed by flanged synth with distorted guitar eruptions so frequently that it makes your head spin.
What holds this laudable effort back are some unfortunate production choices. While the drums punch out at you like a disgruntled employee and the vocals are crystal clear, the guitars are muddy and muffled. And being a bass player, I just don't understand why someone who can play the guitar as well as Suarez would choose to use a keyboard to play the low end instead of laying down the foundation with a borrowed bass.
But it's all good in the hardcore neighborhood. The Prelude is a worthy collection of songs that combine power grooves and crushing vocals in a style that should appeal to fans of Godsmack and Pantera. Samples can be heard at www.suarezman.com and www.cdbaby.com.
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