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Like a well oiled machine - 78%

MrMetalpants, December 2nd, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Metal Blade Records

The album art and the video for the first single ("Code of the Slashers") could use some work. The album art is goofy and I just generally don't like the art style. The video was cheaply done and a bit corny and the song itself was only a bit above average. Fortunately these early factors were not an indicator of the whole like I was initially fearing. Let's dig in.

The album itself rides along steadily at a medium pace, only occasionally breaking that speed. This produces a great flow and unity in the album. Unfortunately, it also produces the feeling of sameness. This is especially noticeable right in the middle of the album. From "Firestorm Vengeance" to "Scavenger Consuming Death", it just feels like one big composition in many parts. They are not outright bad songs, they just run together a bit too much to really enjoy that section. I have to point out that the lyrics are all what you'd expect from them, except for "Only One Will Die". Straight-up silly lyrics on that one. It's odd, but my favorite tracks are the 2nd and 3rd from the beginning and 2nd and 3rd from the end. Those songs have the most variation and sound the most unique, though "Code of the Slashers" took some time to grow on me.

The standout instrument of the album here for me is the lead guitar section. The solos specifically revitalize the bands lead guitar section. Be it part of Erik Rutan's producing or the guitarist himself messing with his tones, but the sound alone of a lot these lead parts is so unique in itself. The solos would still be interesting even with a standard guitar tone. It never gets overly noodley or rely too much on the whammy bar (Two things I think are often over-used in guitar solos). The downside is that my favorite solo on the album ended up being a contribution solo by Erik Rutan on "In the Midst of Ruin". The bass is powerful but doesn't get many opportunities to shine on it's own, unfortunately. Alex is amazing when he gets the spotlight but does well in the background. He helps insurmountably with bringing the heavy on "Remaimed". As a whole, this album is an extremely heavy CC release, regardless of the medium tempo. Normally they get heavy when it's slowed down but do so just fine here given the regularly faster tempos. The drums are standard CC fare with only a few tricks up Paul's sleeve. I should note here that the album sounds great. The quality and clarity of each instrument is noticeable, so if you have a great sound system/headphones then you should be in for a treat.

Overall this is 100% of CC's raw material at firing on all cylinders, for better or worse. If you liked the style they were cultivating on the past couple releases then you may be disappointed in a return to simplicity and relying to much on their signature sound. For the past decade or so of releases, it is my least favorite but not by a lot. Their previous release, Skeletal Domain, was my least favorite until this, so hopefully this does not signal a trend that they would produce something unlistenable. Granted, if they keep releasing what is essentially this album over and over, I'd be fine with that too.

Best tracks:
--In the Midst of Ruin
--Destroyed without a Trace
--Red Before Black
--Code of the Slashers

Technical skill: 72% Originality: 52% Song writing: 68% Album structure: 86% Production: 89%