Artist: Shift F7
CD Review: CRIMSON DIABLO
By: Dan Brisebois

Two years in the making is Shift F7's debut album, CRIMSON DIABLO. The band is actually a duo - Calgary's Mihn Dihn Chin Chilleo and Van Roland. Released in the summer of 2008, the record is sometimes eclectic, sometimes dark and mysterious, and always interesting.

The songs were written by Chilleo - twelve meticulously produced tracks make up the album. And you can hear hints of a wide range of influences - everything from David Bowie and Iggy Pop to the likes of Frank Zappa, Leonard Cohen and Bryan Ferry - and even The Doors' darker days - starting with the opening track, "First In Line."

The album isn't quite 'goth,', but contains some pretty dark and ominous vibes in tracks like "Cure For The Pure," "Broken Parts" (about trying to kick a habit of some sort, I think) and "Moni" are indicative of the album in general, well crafted, just not necessarily everyone's cup of tea.

"Monacle" and "Numb Today" are two of the heavier tracks on the album, with some borderline disturbing lyrics in the case of "Monacle" - "You make me sick you make me ill. If I could I'd kill you." Like the rest of the album, it musically relies on keyboards and synthesizers to hold the guitar riffs and drums together.

It's the bass lines and simple use of the guitar in "A Fool In Love" that makes the track one of the songs that stand out on the record. "Tame and Wild Horses" stands out from the rest, musically speaking. Simple with the most thought provoking lyrics, it had the potential of being a gem. Unfortunately, although Chilleo obviously spent a great deal of time producing the album, his lack of vocal range demonstrates Shift F7 isn't quite there yet, in my opinion anyway. Spoken word is nice as a change of pace if it's done properly. Overkill it and it becomes dangerously close to being monotonous.

Honestly, there's nothing particularly stunning on the record, and yet there's nothing that can be called 'weak.' There's a definite emphasis on creating a dark and bleak soundscape, highlighted by eerie sounding keyboard textures to create a distinct atmosphere that's definitely not for everyone. The songs seem to have been written with exploring a set mood in mind, rather evolving towards one. It's far from brilliant and doesn't necessarily sparkle. But give them an A for effort on their first try.

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