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Best when doing what it does best - 75%

Noktorn, March 27th, 2009

I have a soft spot for US-style melodic death/metalcore, and I definitely think it's at its best when it's not reinventing the wheel. Himsa is one of the bigger bands in this particular style, and generally manage to stick the the roots of the music pretty well, though some unnecessary jiggering with the idea of the circle does occur here and there, which does diminish my enjoyment of this music a bit. This is a band at its best when being unabashedly emotive, with all sort of silly melodramatic melodeath riffs popping up under the hardcore-inspired vocals about inner struggles. It's fun music if not particularly deep, and as usual, it's when wading into the darker end of the pool that the band runs into trouble.

Why exactly is it necessary to have any part of a melodeath/metalcore album not adhere to the fast melodic riffing/sadangry lyrics convention? Himsa attempts to put in sections that sound ominous or 'brutal' or especially aggressive and it almost always falls flat. This isn't merely because they're not very good at it, but because they're so abruptly overshadowed even within single songs by the more conventional and infinitely better material presented. My brain flicks off as soon as the band attempts to go into some churning chug section or bit of atonal riffing, but pops right back on as soon as a cheesy harmonized solo makes an appearance. Yes, the best parts of this album are also the most stereotypical and cheesy, but Himsa executes those parts with professionalism and a flair for the style, so with just a little suspension of disbelief, this is very easy music to get into.

Fortunately, despite some of the more annoying occurrences of diversion from the typical style, when the band's on, they're on. Himsa's great at writing melodic riffs in the traditional melodeath/metalcore style and wisely avoids breakdowns of any kind during the majority of this disc. The song structures are solid, with riff changes occurring at key points and a general sense of excitement throughout. The first few tracks on this disc tend to drag, but the music picks up its pace greatly after the first third or so, fully recovering from a slightly boring set of opening tracks and making for something interesting and engaging for the rest of the disc. The production's a little weird; sort of flat and overly striated for a big-name release, but it's not bad enough to particularly damage one's enjoyment of the music.

Himsa's a little inconsistent and I think they too often divert from their best elements in an attempt to establish variation, but the core of their songwriting is catchy and enjoyable and I can't say I regret listening to this music apart from feeling a little bit gay. If you enjoy melodeath/metalcore (and you likely don't), you should certainly give this album a chance; it's not the best in the style, but it's a solid second-tier choice.