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, an epic that starts softly and arcs into a classic, doom-and-gloomy riff that fails to fully satisfy.
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 crafting dynamic 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 juxtaposes softness and sludginess. The front person’s growl adds a power to the refrain in “Sleep” that sets it apart from the other five items on the tracklist, and when they croon hypnotically on “Turn,” the listener is given a break from the first two, very in-your-face songs. The same goes for the beginning of the closing track, the relaxed-but-still-grim, “Saturn Returns.” Here, Basic Instinct displays delicate composition in a collection that’s often exorbitantly heavy.
Of all the songs, I can’t help but wonder why the band chose the second song as the title track for the EP. With its muddy guitars and predictable progression, it is easily the most generic song on Equinox, offering no more and no less than what you might expect from a sludge metal group. Other songs on the album seem to give much more attention to structure and style, and those are the songs that will keep Equinox fresh after a handful of listens.
Basic Instinct remains original with its front person’s monotone, shouty vocals. For its vocalist, moments of individuality, and dynamic, smooth production, Equinox is worth the listen.
As far as Vancouver’s metal scene goes, comprised of predominantly all-male groups headbanging and screaming with their hands cupped around the microphone, Basic Instinct stands out favourably. Assuming that the two-piece is still pinning down where its talents lie — which, in my opinion, is in its variety and experimentation with vocals and instrumentation — Equinox is an exciting and promising start.