“Between the Balance” is the third EP, and the fourth record from LA based Prog Metalcore outfit Elitist. It comprises of 5 tracks in the following order: “Domino Theory”, “Return to Sender”, “Vice Versa”, “Echo in the Room” and “Lonely Giant”. Closely following on the heels of their full-length, Elitist has narrowed down on a sound that is an amalgamation of generic Djent meets Hardcore. The album opens with my personal favourite (of the EP) “Domino Theory”. Having checked out the first single off the EP “Echo in the Room” I was quite apprehensive of how the release would fare, but thankfully they still retain the habit of opening tracks with a dapper of a riff interspersed with a clean, melodic lead. Although not true for the entire EP, Elitist have long abandoned the consistent face-melting brute riffage to make room for cleans, and tried and tested compositional patterns. Also, “Between the Balance” sees guitarist Julian Rodriguez teaming up with vocalist Chris Balay for the clean sung sections. Ben Kazenoff consistently skin slams his way through the album and it would be safe to say that I still find his chops enviably good.
Not entirely blown away by their full length “Reshape|Reason”, which was released last year, I had my fingers crossed for an EP that treads the same path as “Caves” or “Earth”. Agreed, the “Echo in the Room” single was a gist of what to expect from the record, but nevertheless, it’s a bit of a let-down to see that they have watered down their sound; “Watered down” not in the sense that they are any less technically proficient, just that the EP had a lot of potential to be the next “Caves” EP. One cannot expect any artist to do the same thing over and over and expect the same effect on people and I do respect their decision to expand into a different dimension. However, at the risk of being questioned about how much I am entitled to criticize the band, I’d say they should keep steering towards what they portray in “Domino Theory”. With an opening riff that is briefly reminiscent of their earlier works, and Erra-esque vocal patterns, this track would have most Prog Metalcore fans pumping fists and foaming at their mouth.
Most listeners must have noticed the fact how the vocals in an Elitist record keep changing with each coming release. Keeping in mind that variety is a spice, I daresay the borderline Post-hardcore-ish vocals do not cut well. While the band knows what’s best for them, as a diehard fan of their first two works I’d say it would behoove them to stick to the “Caves/Earth” vocal texture, while going easy on the cleans.
“Between the Balance” best defines the phrase “mixed feelings” for me. The reason behind it is twofold: While they seem to be reverting back to familiar pastures with tracks like “Domino Theory” one cannot say for sure if they are aiming for the same effect, partly because the cleans get in the way, and secondly because the breakneck, mad-scientist Hardcoreriffage which had won them so many fans is missing. I would be lying if I said, “Between the Balance” is entirely uninspiring, because tracks like “Domino Theory” and “Lonely Giant” are what I look forward to when I sit down with the EP. Also, if clean, crisp production is what you are looking for, then rest assured the band is yet to let us down on that front.
Clocking in around 22 minutes, “Between the Balance” makes a solid case for whatever the band had done wrong with the full-length which divided opinions, and how they are planning to add fresh numbers to their kitty while staying true to their policy of easily accessible groove laden Metalcore. Keeping in mind whatever I nit-picked above, I’d still suggest old fans of the band to check the EP out instead of trusting my judgement. For anyone new to camp Elitist, I recommend you listen to this record before you check out their previous works. I abide by what a peer from the interweb forums suggested the other day: “Between the Balance” lives up to its name.