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Birth A.D. started their scathing crossover-thrash assault back in 2009 with the "Stillbirth of a Nation" ep, and returned angrier, hungrier, and more level-headed on their Sophomore debut "I Blame You". For those new to this band's content, Birth A.D. mixes the guitar and drum work of Slayer with S.O.D.-on-steroids lyrics delivered with a Dr. Know-esque shouting style. The band essentially takes the songs from "Stillbirth of a Nation", re-energizes them with slick production, and interlaces newer and just as aggressive material between, making for a balanced album in both quality and consistency that warrants repeated listening.
Lyrical topics range from general destruction of overall societal failure (I Blame You, Short Bus Society, Fill In The Blank, Failed State) to more personal scenarios (This Scene Sucks, Wrong Again). The members of this band have no shortage of targets, including the state of retro-current, fashion-oriented speed-metal (Mission Statement), slackers who cut corners (Parasites Die, Equal Opportunity), and overzealous patriots (Popular War) just to name a few. No doubts here that this album will offend plenty of people in its honesty, but no one can deny how the songs themselves, while very current, will probably stick with you for years and years to come, as both contemporary and eternally relevant.
The vocal delivery, at times, is surprisingly less articulate than the original cuts on "Stillbirth of a Nation", but smacks with more venom and punch to cover proverbial tracks. The crowd shouts on songs like "Popular War" are delivered with more said punch as well, both keeping with tradition and turning the energy up even higher. Drums are definitely more balanced and self-assured than the freshman-output, with deliciously tight d-beats, rolling fills, and blasting that modern metalheads have come to love. Guitar playing is less thick and more in the front than the previous output, the riffs and song structures themselves obviously are collage-d from the timeless thrash and speed shredders from the past, but remain somehow distinctly fresh and in a class of their own, much like the band as a whole.
In conclusion, rarely does an album these days inspire me to pick up a guitar and get back to work. If you are one of those jaded individuals who feels like the current metal and punk scene has little-to-nothing to offer you, Birth A.D. is a shot of adrenaline straight into the brain.
After 1995, metal birthed many marketable, pseudo-intellectual bands who ultimately did the same thing as their predecessors, profiting from the blood and sweat of their ancestors. Birth A.D. is one such band. The style of artwork here is reminiscent of NOFX. Even worse, the music is very bad D.R.I. worship: 50% Violent Pacification and 50% Rise Against.
Opening with a critique of the lyrics is unorthodox, but I feel it necessary to convey the disgusting (both morally and artistically) sense of superiority in which Jeff Tandy places himself. The prose is not unlike Breaking Benjamin in that it is overly simplistic without a sense of primal enthusiasm the punk and hardcore scenes were infamous for. By implication, the meaning of the lyrics are totally lost by their clumsy delivery. The delivery itself -the vocals-are nasally and unpleasant. This leaves the listener wondering how the inept frontman can pompously and undeservedly suggest "Killing Everybody" because they are "fat and stupid and get in the way". Social commentary is usually of better quality than this. I can't help but think the vocalist here decided to twist George Carlin's words by one-upping the man with terrorist threats and puerile vulgarity (ever here a 5th grader curse?). Granted, plenty of bands released quality albums with little help from the vocal department. Perhaps Birth A.D.'s saving grace would be its rhythm section. Or so I thought...
Imagine if one were to speed up the double bass of Rise Against and fuse that with the droning effect of off-beat snare abuse made popular by Prong and Pantera. It is easy to see whose work Mark Perry busted his chops on. I just wish he would have chose not to be so obvious with it. Exhorder were the only bands who really employed this method properly. Therefore it would be better to shamelessly emulate Exhorder, or simply do something else. There is simply no honor in dressing up your drumwork in gimmicks like speed changes and double bass. Of course, there is the possibility that the drummer purposefully employed Prong/Pantera technique with an objective. But to what end?? This isn't black metal, so why the unnecessary obscurity? Obviously, the drummer thought he was being clever, just like the vocalist thought his pseudo-Nietzschean ranting towards common people ("plebs", if you are familiar with the mimetic term) was edgy.
On the positive side, the guitar work is okay. I would say it is obviously influenced by D.R.I., however I enjoyed the way the tremolo-picked phrases matched up with the vocal work. It's unfortunate though that it doesn't extend beyond that. There are no interesting solos or melodies that stay in your head forever. We all remember the first time when we heard a metal guitarist blaze through a flurry of notes as if it was black magic, only to leave us beyond regretting all the years we went without this kind of music. So, where is this magic? Because playing along with the badly delivered vocals is not enough to keep the average metalhead interested for an entire album.
Testament ripped off Metallica. Dimmu Borgir ripped off Emperor. Wolves in a Throne Room ripped off Burzum. Well, Birth A.D. ripped off D.R.I.. My suggestion? Listen to the D.R.I.s and Burzums of the world.
Birth A.D.‘s 2009 debut EP, Stillbirth of a Nation left me craving for more, with the high energy and high intensity punk-infused style of thrash metal. The band this year finally returns after four long years with a brand new album I Blame You as the debut release under the new Dark Descent Records sub-label, Unspeakable Axe. With Dark Descent Records’ reputation of releasing good music, this certainly bodes well for the band, having gone through numerous obstacles along the way leading up to the release of the album.
Fans of bands such as Municipal Waste are gonna love I Blame You, as the band’s music is fast and furious, not unlike the aforementioned, and even the vocals of of Jeff are rather similar to Tony Foresta, as he spits out his lyrics with hate and spite. At the same time, songs like Mission Statement see the band giving a slight nod to bands like Slayer in the song progression, though what is present over here is much more straightforward and has a much higher presence of a somewhat punkish attitude in the energy that is emanated. Throughout the album though, the band manages to ensure that the experience is as mosh-friendly as possible, with the tunes on I Blame You being mostly catchy as fuck, with plenty of fist-pumping moments throughout.
The drums of Mark stands out in the band though, and apart from the usual punkish beats that are utilised, there are moments where he goes into an almost grindcore style, with the heavy usage of blast beats and rolls that are more akin to a death metal style like on Violent Retribution, though things are obviously much faster and much more intense over here. To be honest, this is one of the most enjoyable things on the record, and he certainly provides much of the energy that is present on the album.
Lyrics-wise, the band sticks to their usual themes of social commentary and some slight political rants, though songs like Wrong Again provide some (perhaps unintentional) comic relief, with the spoken sample in the middle of the track never failing to give me a chuckle whenever I listen to the track.
While there are a couple of songs that the band has reused from Stillbirth of a Nation, there is sufficient new material over here. But with the quality of the music that the band has already presented on their EP, who cares if some of the material are reused, as long as it provides for a moshing good time?