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The first time i heard Conducting From the Grave, was at a live show with Dying Fetus and Arsis and they were the opening band, and damn was I impressed. Their stage presence was powerful, the music was technical and yet extremely melodic and they were capable of writing great songs which made them stand out from many of their generic Sumerian label mates (*cough Asking Alexandria cough*). After witnessing their incredible performance I got myself a copy of When Legends Became Dust and fell in love with it. Shortly afterwards I heard they were announcing pre-orders for their new album, I rushed to get it, spending months anxiously awaiting for it to come in the mail, and when did, fuck I wouldn't have imagined the disappointment I was going to feel.
When I listened to this album, the first thing I noticed that there was something missing to it, namely in the guitar work. When I listened to Legends one of the things i loved about that album, was the winding guitar work, the masterful harmonies, counter melodies and dual guitar solos, and sure enough this was one of the main things missing on the album. It seemed that whenever one guitar would take the lead, the second guitar, instead of creating an interesting harmony or counter point to compliment the melody, they would instead go for generic metalcore chugging breakdowns, fucking lame. Not to mention that some of the riffs and songs sound painfully forced, case in point the intro to the title track: Revenants. Instead of sounding creepy or atmospheric, you just want to skip it because of how corny it sounds.
Speaking of which this whole album reeks of metalcore taint, I found myself asking if I was listening to a Conducting from The Grave album, or an August Burns Red album. Yes, its that apparent, and is most noticeable on What Monsters We Have Become (Part 1) featuring boring breakdowns leading into more boring breakdowns (oh joy) and the addition of clean vocals, not interesting clean vocals, but the generic ones you've heard in almost any metalcore song (fuck me with a coconut!).
Another noticeable difference is that Greg has really toned down the technicality of his drumming and not in a good way (compare the double bass speeds on When Legends Become Dust to Revenants), the drumming here sounds so unremarkable, I barely noticed it as it did nothing to catch my attention and once again, you would hear on any metalcore album.
Luckily all is not lost, the one improvement one this album, is the vocals, and Lou Tanouis sounds incredibly more powerful than Drew Winters particularly in his growls, also there are a few solid songs on this album such And Our War Will Dawn, The Tyrants Throne, Unholiest of Nightmares, and What Monsters We Have Become (Part 2), though the rest of the album is unremarkable and serves as filler, alot of filler (8/11 songs).
This is indeed a disappointment of an album and my only hope is they learn from this mistake and return to the sound of Legends which was incredible, but until then, my skepticism shall remain.
Amongst the listeners of deathcore, there are two kinds of people; the ones who listen to anything from the genre, where quality matters not, and the ones who would far prefer to listen to music that required skill to write and execute properly. If you're of the second category, the pickings are slim. You want meaningful songwriting and music that actually sounds good. If you're looking for that in deathcore, or even in progressive death metal, I'd suggest checking out some tracks from Conducting From the Grave's 2010 release, Revenants. Showcasing both blistering speed and dynamic control, this album's highlights have a great amount more instrumental depth than the typical chug-fests that constitute most of this band's peers, and the skill required to actually write, produce, and execute this music is very demanding - for the most part.
Your first introduction to Conducting From the Grave's sound here will be album opener "And Our War Will Dawn". Honestly, the band couldn't have picked a better opening track if they tried; thus song holds a significant amount of music depth, with a lengthy melodic solo and a blisteringly-fast BPM otherwise. While it opens with a clean guitar pairing - which serves to set the gloomy, foreboding mood effectively - "And Our War Will Dawn" is a fast, powerful song with a mix of well-produced low screams and contrasting high shrieks that has defined the genre's vocals at this stage. Aside from the lengthy solo, the guitarplay runs the line between technical and melodic, requiring both quick fingers and a musical ear to produce properly. Such melodies, found in almost every song henceforth, refrain from being mindless wankery by keeping an acceptable speed and shred count. As for the drumming, more interesting technical deathcore drumming can be found in bands like The Red Chord and Born of Osiris, but the drum tracks on Revenants are far from completely unimaginative. They don't lead the mix or establish unique song structure - that job is instead picked up by the lead and rhythm guitars - but they stay interesting enough to keep you from getting completely bored. You are better off focusing on the guitars or vocals, though, as those two seem to lead the mix, anyways.
As you delve deeper into the album, you'll find influences similar to those used on The Contortionist's Exoplanet - tracks like "Unholiest of Nightmares" being prime examples - and you'll find songs that may contradict your first impressions. The fourth track, "Her Poisoned Tongues", is actually home to mindless wankery - as well as mindless lyrics - and in general feels like a forced, unimpressive, boring track. The lyrics might seem brutal and powerful to some, but when you've listened to enough of it, the misogyny gets a little old. Just a little. The anthem at the end redeems it somewhat, though, being extremely catchy. A similar experience is had with "Path of a Traitor", where you have a rather repetitive structure following a catchy anthem. The middle of this record is where listeners will begin to drop off, but some hidden gems are there, and the ending tracks are worth it. "Nevermore", a spoof on Edgar Allen Poe's poetry, is a worthy listen with interesting lyrical meanings and a welcome revitalisation of musical depth. I would aliken it to a breath of fresh air, an indicator that it's time to pay attention again. The next five tracks are powerful and melodic in their own right, but the real deal is the two-part album closer, "What Monsters We Have Become". Conducting From the Grave's anthem-writing skills come in handy again here, and this time, the impact can really be felt. These tracks close up Revenants very well, and impart a good amount of lyrical depth into the listener.
But I am not satisfied. Conducting From the Grave created a disjointed record with several enjoyable tracks, a few stellar ones, and a few substandard ones that have no place plaguing the album. They go from being good to being average before returning to good and having a few stellar moments. I can't describe the whole album with blanket terms because the album is disjointed in its quality. It's disappointing. It's irritating. It's really weird. I just don't understand what happened halfway through the album's production to make the quality drop to boring, run-of-the-mill levels - especially since Revenants has plenty creme-of-the-crop moments. I can only hope for a solid, stronger release in the future, and recommend the good tracks for you guys. Enjoy what they have to offer.
1. "And Our War Will Dawn"
3. "Unholiest of Nightmares"
8. "Curse in the Twilight"
10-11 "What Monsters We Have Become" (both parts)
Since this album doesn't have a review and has been on the site for a while, I'll review it. Conducting From The Grave is your standard melodeath/metalcore band, but they have an ounce of originality and technique to not turn you off during the first listen. When they released "When Legends Become Dust", that album was one of my most played albums and it still is today. It was a great album, it had everything: melody, harsh vocals, tight drumming, and great production. Did this album level up to WLBD?
Sadly, it didn't for me, but that's not a bad thing really. I still enjoy the album a lot, but it seems like they ran out of fast riffs like on the first record. You still have the harsh vocals (excluding the track What Monsters We Have Become, Pt. 1), solid drumming, and good riffs.
I will break the album down into sections, starting with guitars. Like I said earlier, the lack of melodic riffs is a bit of a disappointment, but I must have been expecting them to make a second WLBD. There are still a lot of good riffs to be found on the record like in the opening track, "And Our War Will Dawn". It was a good starting track for the album. There is also a lot more progression in the album too which is always a plus by adding more clean guitar and even clean singing in "What Monsters We Have Become, Pt. 1". Who knew the guy could sing? And he also does all the vocals on the record too. The overall pace of the album is still predominantly fast and there are a bit more breakdowns in the record as well.
The bassist is still doing his thing by adding to the heaviness of the album, but he's got a couple bass solo things when the clean guitars are doing their thing, and again that's all I can really say about that
The vocals range all over the place. It's got highs, lows, mids and cleans. He's still doing the thing where he starts really high, then says some lyrics and descends into a low. The vocalist has gotten better at what he's doing.
The drumming is solid as ever with lots of good and interesting fills and good mid-paced beats that go fast when needed. The bass drum still clicks, but fuck it, it sounds good.
The production is crystal clear as you can hear all the notes and drum fills.
-10 for not enough melody.
-10 for instrumental could have been part of the second to last track.