Sorry it’s taken so long to write a review for this. I’ve been too busy cranking the shit out of this album! Man, it’s so good. I have never been a fan of the band until this album. Not that they were bad, they are super talented, but they just never “hit” me. They almost got me with Monolith. But this one, whew, it just burns your face off with the fire of ten-thousand suns.
This is sure to be a divisive album. What will immediately turn some people off but keep longtime fans happy, is that they are still a grind band. Occasional “dweep-dweep” vocals and all. What will piss off longtime fans and (hopefully) bring in new people are the flirtations with epic melody. It seems to be working too, as they debuted at #41 on the Billboard charts. A freaking blackened/melodic/grind/slam band in the top 50 Billboard. Who would’ve thought? It just makes me love metal that much more.
Let’s get this straight right off the bat: this is vocalist Travis Ryan’s album. I don’t mean any disrespect to the other band members, as they are all phenomenal here, but Ryan just takes it to a whole new level for mega-heavy bands. He sets a new standard here for all heavy vocalists to come. For real. This is some Devin Townsend level stuff here. Harmonized screams, gutturals, black metal style screeches, actual melody lines…he nails it all in a way that really just needs to be heard. Mainstream warning – he does get super “cookie monster” on this album, so it will take some getting used to if you are not a fan of music like this. I will say that it’s definitely worth the effort if you want to expand your musical horizons though.
OK, so no matter how good the other musicians are its going to be hard to compete with the star of the album, but every element keeps up and then some. Another reason this album has taken me so long to review is the neutron star-like density of this sucker. There are more awesome riffs in a single song than a lot of whole albums. For that matter, some bands go their whole careers without coming up with stuff this great. They also manage to make them all thematically fit together. Not a section feels out of place. Sure, upon first listen, something may sound odd. Go back a second time, however, and you hear how it fits. A passage alluded to here, and rhythmic idea hinted at there. Then there are the moments the just hit you where it all comes together. Remarkably, almost every single song has one. It really is top notch song construction.
As for the overall sound of the album, it workmanlike. Not bad. Never bad. It just doesn’t have as much personality as it could. It’s a little too contained sometimes. You can hear everything brilliantly and Dave Otero did a fantastic job getting all these crazy, heavy, and fast elements audible. I think that is really the trade off he had to make. If you wanted to hear everything, it had to be a little “white glove.” If it wasn’t that way, it could easily have turned into a mess.
This is probably one of the heaviest albums I own, and it’s also one of the best in recent memory. It really does have the something for everyone. It’s brutal as all hell, it’s amazingly written, and its got more hooks than a tackle box. This is going to be a hard album for casual and more popular metal fans to digest, but it is very much worth the effort for the uninitiated. For the old guard and fans of brutality, it is also worth the effort to let the melodies in and experience the epic nature of the compositions. In short, no matter who you are, you should probably listen to this album. Even if it’s just once to try it out, it could change your mind about extreme metal.