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Brutal and Slamming... - 55%

EclipseInParadise, August 4th, 2009

...Beyond that there's not much else to say. First a bit of history. On the UKDM scene this band has a mixed reception. Seen by some to be a band that sold-out its underground metal death values in favour of the trendy 'deathcore' style, whereas others hail them as one of the best new bands on the UK scene. For me, the truth is somewhere in between. Having seen the band progress from its early days as Age of Suffering, they have gone from a more traditional style, towards something more 'modern', being influenced increasingly by bands such as Annotations of an Autopsy along with a heavy dose of bands such as Devourment. Live, they are devastatingly tight and heavy but, for me at least, this album does not live up to its expectations.

The tracks are a mix of new and old (some also appearing on the aforementioned split). The performance is incredibly tight and well executed, proving to be the album's saving grace, giving an idea of the energy and precision of their live performance. Riffs are predominantly made up of heavily palm-muted and trem-picked sections, with a few too many pinch harmonics added in the usual places. They usually follow bouncy slammy rhythms a la Devourment, Dying Fetus etc, often being brought back in slower with a sub-drop in that tried and tested, predictable way. The bass plays pretty much no role in the mix at all beyond supplying some bass frequencies to back up the guitars and is mostly inaudible. Vocals are what would be expected - deep gutturals with some higher screams, recounting perverse and depraved scenes of torture, rape and murder. Lyn's drumming performance is incredibly fast and tight, at times somewhat interesting, though his machine like style comes off as exactly that - it may as well have been a drum machine, which leads on to my major grievance with this cd.

The production job here is well and truly shocking. The aim has clearly been to make it as heavy, fat and brutal sounding as possible. What we actually have, whilst being clear and heavy, is characterless and ultimately unengaging. The drums are the worst culprits. The entire kit sounds triggered with clicky samples and no dynamics at all. Snare fills are cringingly drum-machine like as though all the human errors have been painstakingly edited out. We are left with bland and unnatural, unsatisfying results, magnified by the lack of innovation. The entire package is a basically a cliche. The cover art, riffing, vocals, and lyrics we've all seen a thousand times before. It doesn't bring anything fresh to the table and the philosophy of more brutality = better proves partly to be its undoing.

So then, how to conclude? Despite my harsh critique of several elements, this isn't at all a 'bad' release, though some might argue mediocrity is the worst crime of all. If you're very much into the modern slam and deathcore influenced death metal then you'll most likely find much to enjoy here. If however you like things more metal than '-core', prefer some clever tricks and turns, or simply prefer the sound of a real band over digital processed tones and samples, just leave this alone and wait to see the band live.