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Wake up and Smell the Ashes - 90%

fuzzymcchimp, December 15th, 2007

Ah what a great album! Don't let the other people who rate this poorly and label it as metalcore get you down, it's really not all that core-y at all and it is by far one of the best albums to come out of the so called New Wave of American Heavy Metal.

First off- to refute the "oh it's too repetitive blah blah they sound the same on every song" people, check this, they are GROOVE metal. Groove. Metal. That means that they will establish a groove and keep it flowing, kinda like Pantera or other post-thrash bands. If you don't like repetition then I guess this album maybe would rub you the wrong way at first, as it did to me. The first time I listened to this, I wondered what all the hype was about. It took me about five listens all the way through to see exactly what this band has done, and now that I can see it I truly understand how wrong my initial feelings were.

Now to review the actual music:

First off the guitar tone is great- it's gritty and fits the low-end riffing perfectly. As each riff progresses and evolves, the music and mood moves with it and the guitarwork here is obviously just outstanding. Yes, there is lots of palm muting but it sounds really great, and plus those solos and sharp, fast, articulate, stuttering riffs are very difficult to perform, palm mute or not. Now that I think about it, the band really sounds like Dream Theater combined with a Death/Thrash band on this album which is really sweet. You might argue that the guitars use the Egyptian-sounding riffs/scales/modes too much, but it fits, since a lot of the music is about the war in Iraq, which is a Middle Eastern country as we all know :) What really makes the riffs great is how they combine that Middle-Eastern sound with normal blues pentatonic riffs to keep it "rocking" enough to call it groove metal. All in all, the guitarists are relentless and are quite talented.

Bass next- I wouldn't have guessed it, but this guy really can kick it into high gear! I had to see them live to see how he literally DOUBLED the guitars occasionally on some of the fastest parts on the album. Yes, with a pick, on fatter strings, he played twice as fast as the already insanely crazy guitarists. He's nuts. Totally earned me respect. Points off for not punching through enough though! Come on man, if you got it flaunt it!

Drums- Outstanding. Perfect. Remorse is for the dead has by far the best military-style drum part in the intro I've ever heard. This drummer is so creative while obviously being a fast metal player at the same time. His fills are awesome, his addition to the groove is seamless, and he doesn't overdo it ever really. Great, all in all.

Vocals- Topnotch black screams. His voice is very good yet original and is instantly recognizable. The bellows, shriek-dives, and etc. are all astounding too. Randy also seems to know exactly when to just use one vocal layer or use many to make it sound like a choir of angry people want you to hate the Iraq war. Wow, he's a great one. I'm also glad that he didn't sing at all, it keeps up the edge all the way through. Points off for the spoken intro to Omerta though, it just sucks. Also the swearing is unnecessarily over-manly and stupid, people take your political opinions less seriously if you use the vocabulary of a high school student. But other than that the lyrics are really cool and have lots of deep metaphors and symbolism to them.

The overall sound is a great Pantera-inspired groove which etches its way through each song. The vocals, solos, and insane riffs punish your until you can barely take it anymore. The songs on the album flow very smoothly and lead to each other well, especially the title track into Remose is for the Dead. If you are a fan of Pantera, extreme metal, or just heavy metal in general, this album will not disappoint. Fans of power/melodic metal beware though: there is no room for pansy stuff on this very serious and brutal record.

Buy it.