User Review( votes)
Nightmare Records on July 24, 2007
Metal Express Rating: 9.0/10
Release Date: 2007-02-02
by: SCOTT JESLIS
Email: scott (at) metalexpressradio (dot) com
Shift is a new band out of Baltimore, Maryland, USA. They are the brainchild of Mystic Force bandmates Rich Davis and Chris Lembach, who felt it was time to move on and explore new musical territories. The two of them brought in Jeff Caudle on vocals, which became the foundation for Shift. The line-up was later solidified by Doug Guthrie on guitar and Steve Shaffer on the bass guitar. Creating A Monster represents their debut album, which is being sold currently as an independent release. Normally the term “Monster” would be associated with all sorts of negative connotations, but when used in reference to describing this release it can only be synonymous with “massive,” and it’s a tag that is very articulate in describing this CD!
Shift has managed to give a fresh sound to music built on a Modern Metal foundation laced with melody, hooks, and heavy rhythms. Not only that, but Rich Davis (guitars), with the help of Doug Guthrie, has managed to do something a lot of Modern Metal bands don’t do … infuse a nice dose of lead guitar into the framework. In general, this release seems to fire on all cylinders from the melodic, yet forceful vocals of Caudle, to the rampant drumming of Lembach, to the aggressive rhythms of Shaffer and the aforementioned guitarists.
Songs like “Escape The Machine” have some interesting heavy guitar rhythm signatures and sounds that keep the music from getting boring, while adding an almost Progressive touch to the music’s quality. “Devil Beside” has similar qualities and adds in a nice gut-wrenching vibrato-filled solo. “Sins” is one that includes some entertaining-sounding nuances along with another nice layered, distorted guitar solo. Don’t get the wrong impression here, the solos here aren’t going to put Satriani or Vai out of a job, but they are to the point, aggressive, and damn interesting.
The track “Taking Lives” is destined to become a popular favorite. The song opens with a flurry of guitar and drums, and slips into a heavy riff capped demarcated by a pick slide before being fueled by Caudle’s melodic vocal delivery. Icing on the cake … a slightly melodic chorus and another riveting solo. Eleven tracks in all and not a bad one in the bunch.
Bottom line, for a debut and independent release, this CD, in fact the entire package, just drips with musical professionalism. From the slick tri-fold digi-pak case (with full lyrics), to the crisp Production and energetic musicianship, this release seems to surpass many releases on major labels. The CD artwork was done by Mattias Noren, the same gent who has done covers for bands like Evergrey, Fate, Mind’s Eye, and Derek Sherinian, to name only a few. To tip the odds even more in their favor, the CD was also engineered by Drew Mazurek (Byzantine, Linkin Park, H.I.M., Nothing Face, etc.). The band appears to be of a relatively young age, so a long career is hopefully inevitable. It’ll be interesting to see if these gents can score a record label and then surpass what they’ve done here with Creating A Monster via hopefully what will become a follow up. Head on over to the band’s MySpace site for a sample and link to purchase this one, which is perhaps one of most impressive independent releases of the year in the Modern Metal category!
The monster has been created. The monster is SHIFT.
Jeff Caudle – Vocals
Rich Davis – Guitars
Doug Guthrie – Guitars
Steve Shaffer – Bass
Chris Lembach – Drums