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Some groups in the rock/metal scene have gained popularity soley based on the quality of their music, a good example being Rush, who have managed to keep the same lineup intact since 1974. In this example, the group have never swayed their means or adopted any aspect of "popular" music for any reason other than for pure, unadulterared, experimentation. It's progressive rock after all, so a band cannot be condemned for expanding their sound into new ground as long as they have something to add or say to the genre of music which they feel has not or will not be stated by some other artist in the future. So, by this logic, it's perfectly fine to experiment in something deemed popular, or even "trendy", as long as the musicians are able to interpret this genre or element in a way which is, in some way, "progressive". This, along with some truly stellar, classic rock songs, has ensured the band a lifetime of continuous obsession and love from countless fans, myself included.
In the 80's, however, Rush began to experiment with the addition of synthesizer and keyboards, with the emphasis on guitar being lowered somewhat. This led to many fans labeling the band "synth rock" or "pop rock", although the band still no doubt retained the same highly intelligent themes they held in the past, separating them largely from their contemporaries. Similarly, deathcore band Burning the Masses are performing a genre of music often maligned and despised, although with a new, personal twist which adds to the appeal and the edge of the music (which is absent in nearly all of their contemporaries). In addition to breakdowns, growls, and blast beats, at times the group will introduce neo-classical guitar solos, classical/spanish influenced acoustic guitar interludes, Gorguts inspired death-jazz fusions, and lyrics which often focus on darker, more mysterious subjects. This often leads to a fairly entertaining listen. A wide variety of influences are presented, often presented very well. For instance, the track "Euphoria Ends" lasts for well over five minutes, yet still manages to avoid breakdowns completely, seamlessly floating from riff to riff in a sea of technical death metal potential. Other tracks, such as "Mind Control", showcase similar ideas, though the reliance of "br00tal" breakdowns always becomes tedious. In addition to standard breakdowns, the members of the band (for whatever reason, which totally escapes me) perform a slower, absolutly boring and fucking stupid kind of breakdown, which is played extremly slowly and tears apart the song until the listener feels the impending desire to mutilate their ears.
A good example of this would be the third track on the disc, entitled "Mind Control". The track utilizes a strongly death metal-influenced base in it's opening, and the song manages to retain it's edge despite the use of breakdowns in the first minute. Around the 1:11 mark, we are introduced to a very technical melody which soars over the blasting drums and screaming guitars, a sound very rarely seen in deathcore. Unfortunatly, seconds later, a build-up for a rather unnoteworthy breakdown occurs, before the band let loose their inner Gorguts with a jazz-influenced riff. Up to this point, we have a rather enjoyable technical death metal song with one or two breakdowns, though these have been well sewen into the song so that there are no open seams or threads hanging out. Up to this point, the song is enjoyable. After this point, however, we are treated to an insipid breakdown which makes my bowels churn upon a simple listen. This breakdown is so fucking stupid, that it's existance is like a shitstain on an otherwise perfectly good pair of underwear. Fortunatly, this breakdown fucking dies only seconds later, and we are allowed to re-concentrate on the music. Back to the Gorguts inspired section, and then a well-done buildup (with a bebop-ish bass line playing in the background underneath guitar distortion) for a well written Gorguts influenced riff, though the hardcore influences gradually leak back into the song and a final breakdown occurs, this time much more cliche, yet not as dumb as the previous. The final few seconds of the song are rather uneventful, unfortunatly, but we are left with an at least partially decent track to look back on.
Fortunatly, other songs are written with much more emphasis on songwriting, as opposed to the "br00tality". Not all the songs contain breakdowns, namely the aforementioned five plus minute opus "Euphoria Ends", as well as the track "Arms Raised, Eyes Closed" (though the last few seconds of the song feature a churning breakdown rhythm behind a technical lead, though the primary focus is upon the lead). Also notable are the inclusions of three instrumental, experimental numbers, "Cinema", "Chupacabra", and "Galactic Abduction". These numbers range from progressive metal, to latin/acoustic, and while many's first impression may be disbelief, I can assure you that these are incorporated well into the band's sound. One track, entitled "Gerascophobia", features a progressive metal sounding introduction, before leading into an enjoyable assortment of technical death metal/deathcore riffs, playing off each other with relative ease, and once again, making for a rather memorable listen, with several truly great riffs sneaking in (2:42).
In addition to this, however, several tracks still manage to fall flat. For instance, the rather insipid "Paroxysm of Fear" constantly grates on my nerves even after repeated listens of attempting to "understand" it. As well, certain moments of tracks like "Nailgun Massacre" and "Cyanide" will no doubt have the listener rolling their eyes in annoyance. While breakdowns work well in some tracks, instances like the end of "Cyanide" are hard to ignore, as the "ulta-slow" breakdowns tend to, as previously stated, grate on the nerves quite a bit. Fortunatly, the majority of the record is still relativly enjoyable, and while it sports many, many holes, there is no doubt that Burning the Masses have potential, be it as a deathcore band or otherwise.
I will leave you with this; while the album is well written and very enjoyable in parts, the band often trail off and set their focus on other, less important areas. If the band would only learn to incorporate the breakdowns better into their overall sound, without creating such a large splash and contrasting with the riffs and solos so much, we would no doubt have a an album rated in the 70 or possibly even 80 range. However, I suggest that you check this recording out either way, as it's worth no doubt outweighs it's worthlessness.
My favourite tracks:
"Arms Raised, Eyes Closed"
Review originally posted at http://www.teethofthedivine.com by Erik Thomas
Not to be outdone by Metal Blade’s group of teenage deathcore kids, Fate, here come Mediaskare/Century Media with their own group of growling, blasting, shredding, breakdowning kids plucked right from the halls of a San Diego High school.
Though most might cringe at yet another group of snot nosed kids who can’t even buy a beer releasing a ‘death metal’ album, the fact is, this lot are pretty darn talented. They are more brutal and technical than Fate, and their presentation is a far more pure death metal, in fact, I’d say Burning the Masses have more in common skill and delivery wise to The Faceless, and at times I was thinking to my self that Mediaskare has found the deathcore equivalent to Decapitated.
With a sticker claiming the CD for fans of Between the Buried and Me and Necrophagist to reel in all sorts of curious fans, the fact is Mind Control is a tech death metal album with some breakdowns and some pretty nifty solos, making them far more appealing than the usual Bring Me The Horizon styled tripe that’s so vogue now.
Dave Montenegro has a standard roar/growl, but the rest of his cohorts have a grasp of dynamics and talent far age their age group. The guitar skills of Chris Valenzuela and Arde Ostowari are on display through each song, though flamenco themed interlude “Chupacabra” and very entertaining closing instrumental number “Galactic Abduction”, (no do dissimilar to Fate’s “Vultures” as far as pure melodic shred) put them at front and center. Even with three tracks from their Volatile Existence demo (”Mind Control”, “Cyanide”, “Nailgun Massacre”) the material on Mind Control blends perfectly in short bursts (2-3 minutes) of crumbling, blasting, technical death metal with deathcore undertones. The production is stout, the lyrics are not to forced death metal or stupid (despite the bands apparent love of Natures own) and the frequent solos give the material a short in its teenage arm that belies the bands age.
Tracks like “Moltres”, “Euphoria Ends”, the aptly titled “Prodigy”, can go toe to toe with most of the years second tier of tech death metal and deathcore releases (Whitechapel, Carnifex, Catalepsy, After The Burial, The Faceless, Days of Betrayal, Suicide Silence, Glasgow Grin, Fate Happy Face, etc), but I’ll admit they have not quite got that ‘wow’ factor and I imagine their age and deathcore stigma will keep too many older folks from checking them out. Still, with these guys barely out of diapers they only have room to grow, improve and make a real dent in the scene.
In a related note I have started my own label and my first signing is a group of deathcore kids from my daughters childcare called Diaper Rash, look for their first demo called “Teething is a Bitch” early next year.
With their previous EP Burning the Masses put themselves way ahead of the deathcore genre, breaking away from the typical stale formula found in every other band. Excellent riffs and brilliant solos were what they brought to the table. Sure the bass was inaudible and the vocals were generic but when backed up by excellent riffing it didn't matter. So once you're at the top of the ladder where else can you go? Falling right the fuck off and landing in a pile of shit is where.
Remember those mind blowing solos found on the EP? You know the one in Deprived of Purity that melts your face? Yeah, none of that on here. Instead we get lame ass breakdowns. They still have solos but they're more of a "hey look how technical and pointless I can play" solo. Sometimes they'll switch it up and throw in that "I'm going to dance on my guitar" wankery riff. Something I expect to see in a Necrophagist or a Faceless album, not here. Speaking of The Faceless, the vocals sound identical, not that it's a bad thing but get some variety for fucks sake.
The drumming even sounds bland! Not that it was phenomenal on their EP but it was better then this rehashed bullshit. Their bassist is so mind blowing that during the recording process the band decided to turn the bass all the way down. Yeah that's right, you can't even tell it's there.
Besides the obvious lack of song writing skills the one major flaw the band has is that every thing sounds the same. The only way you know you're on a different track is because they decided to throw in some lame acoustic interlude. There was also no point to put three songs from their previous EP onto the album. All it shows is the lack of creativity the band has.
Not that it matters but even their song titles are garbage now, Gerascophobia and Chupacabra, what the fuck?
Way to go mediaskare, you turned an unknown and decent deathcore band into generic garbage, congratulations.