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Very Good - 98%

tbald_owns_all, May 9th, 2011

When I first encountered Dethlehem, I just had to laugh. I was sent a promo from the band and checked out their Myspace, and what I found was just too good to be true, a bunch of guys from Pittsburgh donning medieval fantasy costumes like they are about to go on a LARPing conquest. And the name? Dethelehem? Priceless. The band had caught my attention in a good way, because its all too clear that unlike their European brethren who take this heavy metal in a fantasy realm a little too seriously at times, Dethelehem were rejoicing in the wonderful camp of it all, and just wanted to have a good time much like the delightful pirated themed guys in Swashbuckle who have been making their own waves this past year with a new album and some heavy touring. However, unlike Swashbuckle, I had yet to hear if Dethelehem could back up the preposterous nature of their theme. It didn’t take me long though, to discover an independent diamond in the rough consisting of kick ass death metal with a healthy dose of traditional metal thrown in for good measure. Thank the Gods of AD&D.

I won’t get all wordy with this one, because it would do this album a huge injustice. Ghorusalem is a record that the band I’m sure takes very seriously, considering every song on the album is an outright barn burner, but not so serious that they can’t have a good time with it. Its clear that the guys in Dethlehem just made an album that was fun, nothing more, nothing less, and I commend them wholeheartedly for their efforts. I get what these guys were going for, with silly voice interludes consisting of a side conquests in order to get more XP (I kid you not, listen to the album!), which then leads in to the next ferocious number hellbent on turning this fantasy themed story into an absurdly catchy collection of music all capped off with a bonus track of the band drunk off of their asses attempting valiantly to sing a number around an imaginary campfire while trying to maintain English accents. This is shit that everyone does (especially when drunk), but Dethlehem have found a way to focus that craziness into what really amounts to good quality metal.

Vocally, Lord Bonecrush is in his element with the harsh vocals, which are really a highlight of the album for me. He screams with a powerful ferocity that is reminiscent of Howard Jones from Killswitch Engage, along with the low death metal gutterals similar to Chance Garnett of Skeletonwitch. However, Bonecrush slips up in dramatic fashion when he chooses to take on the role of clean vocalist, and not just any clean vocalist, but the falsetto vocals of a classic metal or power metal band. If this style had worked, if Lord Bonecrush had a set of pipes on him in addition to his gutteral onslaught, I would say it worked quite well, but as it stands, Lord Bonecrush sings worse than my sister, and trust me, no one wants to hear her sing. Interestingly though, because the music is so damn catchy, the clean vox are actually totally forgivable which is a rarity for me, because if your band tries to sing clean, and your singer is better off just driving the van and going on beer runs for the rest of the guys, then I am going to calls it likes I sees it. With Lord Bonecrush though, his gutterals are great, and the rest of the band really constructs a winning formula that makes that clean vocal moments bearable, and even humorous. However, once Dethlehem begins to acquire more credibility in the community (which I foresee them obtaining), they are going to have to focus on either inproving the clean vocals of Lord Bonebrush, doing a duel vocalist format ala 3 Inches of Blood, or nixing the whole idea. I have to say that I am a sucker for good clean vocals over heavier forms of metal, which is probably why I love 3 Inches of Blood, so if Dethlehem can pull it off on future albums, it will make them a force in the scene for sure.

The Ghorusalem Codex is an album everyone should check out, because its a fun ride. So go turn on your World of Warcraft and crank this bad larry in the background for an experience that will likely gain you more hit points to your lawful good Paladin…oh wait, that’s not WOW, I don’t know…