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I Declare War were one of the most decent deathcore acts you could stumble upon. After hearing whiny emo bands like Bring Me The Horizon or Suicide Silence, it was quite refreshing to find decent quality bands such as these fellows. Even though deathcore breakdowns sound terribly boring, I Declare War managed to create catchy tunes and keep you listening.
For this album, guitars were tuned to G#, much like Cannibal Corpse's ''Kill''. You might expect mind blowing sheer brutality. You might even think they might switch to a death metal approach, leaving their core-ish sound behind. Unfortunately, that's not the case.
Guitar tuning is really low, indeed, but heavy music is not just low-tuning. In fact, the guitar tone sounds very bland and after 10 minutes (maybe less) you'll just want to stop the CD, since it also sounds extremely repetitive. The bass sound becomes extremely annoying, being mixed with the highest volume possible. Plus add the fact that only the first 5 frets of the first string are being used, so you'll end up hearing the same boring bass-line over and over.
Guitar-wise, I Declare War has never been too technical or original, however this album redefines the word monotonous. Except for some half-assed guitar leads (Putrification Of The Population), the guitar parts work pretty much the same as the bass, only that you'll hear hundreds of boring, monotonous, repetitive and unoriginal dissonant chugging sections (br00tal breakdowns, in scene kids talk). It even makes me anxious to listen to their songs, since they go really slow (not like doom metal that excels at slow, heavy-as-fuck tunes, and it's more like singing you to sleep) and I want to hear brutality and crushing riffs, but again, breakdowns galore is all I can detect (Federal Death Alliance and Infinite Corruption are quite entertaining, but fall into the same stereotype).
As for the drumming, pretty simple. Double bass here, some blasting there, some fast beats too, but what you'll be hearing the most are... you guessed it. Breakdowns.
If you want decent deathcore that doesn't sing you to sleep, just go for their previous releases. Or get Whitechapel's ''This is Exile''. If you want actual brutal music, pick any Krisiun or Vomitory album instead.
So I rather like metalcore, but this, this is an insult to everything good about metal. I find very little that can be justified or at all considered good. Sludge styled riffing(the bad kind, not like Mastodon’s Remission), boring drumming, and vocals that aim to disappoint. Add on to that some terrible production and the fact that the guitars and bass play everything at the same time and the formulaic approach to every song that miserably misuses the idea of technical death metal, and you have one absolutely horrific album.
Guitars and bass on this album are just terrible. The melody is not even there, and technicality is not even part of the game when the entire album uses just over 5 notes. Every song is very difficult to discern from each other and the bass overpowers everything. No attempt is made to have intertwining guitars, which to me is such an integral part of metalcore. There is nothing even reminiscent of a solo on here, unless you perhaps consider some of those wimpy guitar leads solos.
The songwriting is also at fault on this album, or the lack thereof. Songs come and go with no real consistency throughout and the riffs change randomly, but not in the way that you would like. A riff begins to get some decent chugging rhythms and then, BAM, here comes something new and terrible. The picking is also very unclean, making it hard to differentiate notes, melody, anything really. Metalcore should not be played this way, in fact, that style is more dedicated to deathcore than metalcore. However, all other signs do unfortunately point to a combination of the two.
I have not heard another band with a sound quite like theirs, justly so. It has no melody and there is simply no way to improve upon it because to improve upon something requires substance, which I Declare War does not even have. The lyrics however, are slightly out of the box and look at society in a different way, but you’ll soon forget that. Hopefully.
Drumming is boring on Malevolence, with no drum fills worthy of being called that and an incredibly systematic approach. On every song, the double bass pedals of the drumming match the guitar parts, and this never deviates throughout this painful experience. All the while, he plods through on the same tempo on the same beat; essentially the same everything.
It is simply frustrating listening to this as a metalcore fan. The music always takes a turn for the worse for the listener, and there is no crisp sound at all. Bands like Fall of Eden play a solid metalcore, while still packing dense riffing and tight rhythms. This is the more sludge part of metalcore, but that is no excuse for the 40 minutes of audio torture showcased here.
Vocals are gut wrenchingly terrible on this album, and I have no doubt they have always been so. I seriously question the mental condition of whoever heard this guy and thought it might be good to sign them. Simply beyond me. He needs vocal lessons by the boatload just to learn how to put some emotion and pitch changes into his voice. If you have ever listened to Annotations of an Autopsy, this guy sounds even worse than that. I just don’t get it.
However, despite all these shortcomings, I Declare War manages to push all of these elements aside and produce one decent song that does not at all fit with the rest of the album. That one song is Putrification of the Population. It starts out with a solos styled riff that is backed by a different guitar rhythm part, although the drumming still remains that incredibly boring style. Vocals actually keep you interested and the song changes the riff up every now and then. Not an absolutely fantastic song, but it separates itself from the other undesirable songs as decent metalcore.
Don’t, and I mean DON’T buy this album. If you are into metalcore, then you might consider acquiring the aforementioned track, but that is it. I Declare War’s Malevolence is an example of a band trying to go outside of the box, but simply fails at achieving a sound that is quite simply listenable. They simply give good metalcore bands like Threat Signal and Winds of Plague a bad rep. Disappointment abounds.
2010 holds a lot for metalcore and death metal, especially upcoming bands trying new things. Bands try new vocals and riffs, sometimes they experiment with drum machines. I Declare War bring their new album “Malevolence” out, and it takes a whole new meaning. The screams hit harder, the guitar play lower and the drums go faster.
As a distorted guitar plays the first chugging riff, you know this album is going to be a hell of a ride. The whole album is built around humanity and the corrupt politics that set the rules. I was happy for a change in lyrics, rather than the same old “fuck Jesus Christ, he’s an asshole” bullshit. These lyrics are fresh and new. The album has a variety of sounds, from slow, heavy slam breakdowns to fast melodic riffs. The song “Fiction” incorporates these sounds well with excellent precision and timing.
The album is produced well; it has a healthy level of bass, which is not drowned out by the other instruments and the guitars sound the best on the album, they are well heard and fit in the drums perfectly. The vocals are at a right volume, without “bree bree hor hor” all the way through it, Jonathan’s talent really stands out in the songs “Conformed to Fiction” and “Putrification of the Population” and the drums are splitting and are played better than in the album “Amidst the Bloodshed”. It has an incredible variety or slams and breakdowns, fast paced songs and slow chugging songs. One let down was the lack of solos, although some talented sweeps and melodies, there were no solos.
The album is at perfect length, summing up around 39 minutes and plays out well, although no solos it is big, beefy and was made to be played loudly.