Sound — 9
Mmm, French metal. You can guarantee yourself that apart from Gojira, Alcest and possibly Anorexia Nervosa, there's really not that many French bands that would be called "well known" in any underground/mainstream sense of the word. I'm not entirely sure why, French progressive metal has some of the most unique, intense, interesting and well written music in it, and should be given it dues. Outcast seem intent on bringing the sound to a spotlight, saying "Hey metal world, we exist too ya know". What we've got here is this unlikely but highly successful combination of influences and sounds into one package, wrapped up with enough lovely nuances to make you say "Yes, that does feel special". The French metal scene is distinct for three things that is within the music: Groove, transitions and lots of jammin' riffs. In terms of band sound, Outcast have sub-consciously combined the sounds of Hacride, Gojira, Scarve and Textures into a constantly breaking and re-moulding sound, one that shifts from intense and complex metal (blast beats, notes all across the fretboard) to sudden shifts of harmonic and melodic build-ups (the intro to "Abysmal", pre-chorus to "A Solace From The Shade" par example). The riffs are genuinely unique; the guitarists have a great understanding of balancing dissonance and melody together to make beautiful metal, which adds to the balance of the heavy/harmonic transitions. And these are some fairly technical riffs. I feel this certain nice feeling whenever the lead guitarist pulls off a solo or harmonized lead, like it's a present with a cake made of soundwaves inside. But on the other end is the 'softer' bits, where they pull out the arpeggios, it's one of those jizz-in-the-pants moments (my favourite is on "Spin Angular Momenta", which also has female vocals). The comparable sounds of other bands come mainly from the rhythm section, where the styles are distinguishable mainly in the drums: There are awkward Hacride kick drum polyrhythms, Gojira's sense of solid, consistent groove and Scarve's knack for going from half time grooves to sudden bursts of blast beats, chaotic riffage, that stuff etc. So smoothly. By the way, this is not djent.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics are a strange mixture with this band, a lot of metaphorical phrasing but lots of mixing between positive themes (there's an awful lot of hope in "Abysmal") that are sadly, a little bit lost in the vocalists voice due to his technique... ..And this is perhaps the one negative thing about "Awaken The Reason". The vocalist is a skilled chap, and his vocal style is much like Joe Duplantier (Gojira) and Samuel Bourreau (Hacride) which is like a choked a clean note but with lots of gruffness to it (and the occasional full on layered death growl). Unfortunately, where Joe and Sam actually knuckle down and sing (as in sing) to great effect, Wilf (Outcast's vocalist) still won't let go of the forced gruffness in his voice, making certain parts a little bit underwhelming in a sense, such as the chorus to "Abysmal". But it's still melodic, in this context, and compliments the harmonies nicely.
Overall Impression — 9
As a big progressive metal fan, I was almost instantly sold on first listening to "Abysmal" and "Isolation", really original examples of progressive death metal. It's not exclusive to people who like the style though, the grooves are enough for even the most uninitiated and newest metal fan to understand and enjoy. Songs to look out for: "Elements", "Abysmal", "Spin Angular Momenta", "Isolation", "Fallen Years", "What Would Be My Final Commitment".