If you’re a fan of getting lost in sludgy, wall-of-sound metal, Basic Instinct’s debut album is for you. At least, that’s the impression that Equinox gives with its opening track, a five-and-a-half minute-long epic that starts softly and arcs into a classic doom-and-gloomy riff that feels like it’s reaching a climax but fails to fully satisfy.
Such is the impression left by many songs on the record. Basic Instinct is good at doing what they do best: delivering dark, unfussy, slightly melodramatic heaviness. This is their strength, and it comes through on Equinox, but when it comes to devising creative songs that keep you engaged from start to finish, there’s still much to be desired.
The most impressive moments on Equinox come when the band successfully uses both softness and sludginess to their advantage. The abrasiveness of the front woman’s growl adds a power to the refrain in “Sleep” that sets it apart from the other five items on the tracklist, and when she sings softly and sweetly to the hypnotic “Turn”, Basic Instinct gives listeners a break after the first two, very in-your-face songs on Equinox. The same goes for the beginning of the closing track, the relaxed but still grim “Saturn Returns.” Here, Basic Instinct displays delicacy and vulnerability in a collection that’s often exorbitantly heavy.
The second song is the title track, and of all of them, I can’t help but wonder why the band chose this one to represent the EP. With its muddy guitars and predictable progression, it is easily the most generic piece on Equinox, offering no more and no less than what you might expect from a local metal group. Others on the record seem to be made with much more attention to structure and style, and these are the numbers that will keep Equinox fresh after a handful of listens.
Although a few songs on the record barely escape being labelled near-Metallica tributes, Basic Instinct remains original with its front woman’s monotone, shouty vocals. For its vocalist, moments of individuality, and dynamic, smooth production, Equinox is worth at least one play through.
As far as Vancouver’s metal scene goes, comprised principally of four guys head-banging and screaming with their hands cupped around the microphone, Basic Instinct sticks out in a favourably. Assuming that the two-piece is still pinning down where its talents lie—which, in my opinion, is in experimenting with variety when writing both vocals and instrumentation—it’s an exciting and promising start.