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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.