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I've been listening to metal for quite some time now. I've been familiar with death, black, etc. since I was about 12 or 13 years old and I'm now 21. There's a lot of metal out there that's great on many levels, but there's few releases out there that's actually touching to listen to. I actually get a feeling in my stomach that's indescribable.
On another note, the production of this monster is phenomenal. The guitar tone is spectacular; very heavy without sacrificing the powerful sound of the leads. The bass is kind of lost behind the murderous sound of the guitars at times, but for the most part it sticks out, especially in songs like "This Day is Black". The drums sounds amazing on here. I'm not sure if all of the drums are triggered or he's just extremely accurate. The bass drum seems triggered but not to hell. Triggers can be used nicely and they did a good job on here. I hear different levels of volume and just overall different sounding hits on the snare at times, so I'd like to think that the snare isn't triggered (at least in the sense that every hit no matter how hard, will produce the same sound with the same amount of ring, volume, everything). If this is the case the drummer does an amazing job at keeping his intensity ala Mike Smith of Suffocation. The vocals are just loud enough and not too loud in the mix. There's a lot of instances on the album where the vocals seem distorted with a little reverb. Even though I'm not usually a fan of distorted vocals, he pulls his vocal performance off perfectly.
Now, beyond production values this cd has even more quality qualities (lol I did that on purpose). The guitar riffs here range from technical death riffs, odd time signatures, some killer breakdowns here that are slightly metalcore-y but way more rhythmically technical and not just open note chugs. I'd say some of the breakdowns are kind of slam death influenced but they're typically faster than most slams. There's also some great Melo-death riffs that aren't cheesy and lame, think Impaled type melody without the gorey atmosphere. Occasionally a riff will pop up that sounds strange. It's tough to explain but it's definitely something you don't hear a lot. They're kind of spacey and atmospheric like the slow part of "Kill it, Skin it, Wear it". The solos are just simply amazing. Not completely focused on technicality and it's evident that he's writing them for the purpose of adding a genuine guitar passage to a song rather than showing off or just playing basic scales fast.
I can't really comment on the bass here. I can definitely hear it and it's decent but.. The drum performance on here is a little more than solid. Great footwork and he tends to blast or atleast do eighth notes on the snare during guitar pauses, which is awesome sounding. Some of the fills on here are actually very atypical for death metal. it's not just your typical four 16ths on four different toms from high to low or vice-versa. He incorporates his kicks and snare hits nicely into his fills. My only complaint about the drums is actually a production error. The cymbals just don't seem loud enough in the mix at times but you can definitely tell there's some stellar cymbal work.
The vocals range from a mid-range scream to a low-pitched scream with a hint of growl (think Guy from The Red Chord). There's some chest-death growls that aren't quite guttural but still low similar to Frank Mullen's latest performances. Joe McGlynn also has one of the best high screams that's ever graced my ears. I wish he used it a little more on here, but I'm glad he didn't dub over eveything and make layered vocals everywhere. He does seem to drop the F bomb a lot, but it works here as it's used in a hateful manner without resembling mallcore. The lyrics are truly touching, "This Day is Black" is about depression which I've battled for years and I appreciate the fact that he could write a song about the subject.
Overall, this album is amazing. There's few things that I can complain about here. The cymbals don't seem loud enough in some of the faster parts and the instrumental track just seems a little long for what it is. It builds up and builds up but never explodes into the climax I was expecting. Other than that it surpasses my expectations. Songs like "Gainsayer" give me that indescribable stomach feeling I was speaking of. Almost orgasmic, one of the best feelings for sure. Pick it up if you like metal, it's different. Definitely an interesting and extremely inspiring listen.