Sunday, March 18, 2012
Slice The Cake - The Man With No Face (2012)
Style: Progressive Death Metal/Deathcore
I think it's fairly obvious that if you are just skimming through this blog that I am not a deathcore type of a guy. It's a genre that I am really not a fan of at all and find very lackluster. I will go out of my way to say that I have actively gone out of my way to try and avoid covering any deathcore albums because I have been burned a lot when the genre was first getting big. So why am I covering a band that has actually been called deathcore?
Forgive me, but I'm gonna use this review as my soapbox for a moment to describe why I don't usually cover deathcore and why I am not a fan of the genre. While I would say that I don't hate any style of music (except reggae, just can't describe how grating that is on my ears) I can't say that deathcore has had any impact on me to the extent where I would call myself a fan of many of its bands. Sure, I enjoy Job For A Cowboy every once in a while, but it's hard to even call them a deathcore band anymore, and The Contortionist came from the deathcore scene as well, and they're a pretty cool band as well. Hell, even Whitechapel is decent enough, though I wouldn't call myself a fan. Aside from those two examples there, I have found little in the genre that I would come back to repeatedly. Sure, when Suicide Silence first came out I was a fan, but I never even made it to their second record. I just can't wrap my head around why so many bands would actively choose to sound like Suicide Silence or Emmure when those bands already have a sound, and while I can't say I'm a fan, I understand the appeal and draw to those groups. It's become such a pain to find any sort of originality within the genre that I've pretty much given up on it.
"So why am I covering this album then," you're probably asking yourself at this point. Trust me when I say that while I checked the band out on Youtube first before actually deciding to cover it, I was actually very impressed by what I heard. I haven't heard the trio's first EP (I think they were still a duo at that point though), but I've heard that this is a major step up, and I can believe it. This thing absolutely threw me for a loop, and showed me things I didn't think I'd ever heard from a "deathcore" band. Let me first say that while this band is technically called a "progressive deathcore" group, it's actually surprising at how little these guys rely on the breakdown. Sure, there are a couple on here, but most of what's on here is dominated by heavy riffs, technical soloing, and impressive melodies. Another thing I usually dislike about deathcore are the vocals, but, once again, this band proved me wrong and showed me that there are bands who have vocalists who know what they're doing vocally. Most of this album is dominated by growls which reminded me a lot of Johnny Davy from Job For A Cowboy actually, and I've always thought that Davy had an interesting sound to this vocals, so I wound up enjoying these as well; and while there are screams and pig-squeals on here as well, they're used very sparingly, which proved far less irritating than many of their peers have proven to be. Then, you have the addition of clean vocals on a handful of tracks as well, and while they might not be great, I'd certainly call them above average; and there's no reliance on auto-tune either, another plus in my book. I would have actually liked to have heard more of them now that I think about it.
But probably the most powerful thing about this band, apart from everything else I've mentioned, is that they just know how to write interesting and engaging songs. Most of these songs are over five minutes, with the title-track topping twenty minutes, in which none of it really feels like filler and there are noddings toward the likes of Opeth and Between The Buried and Me. For me, any band that can write a song that eclipses ten minutes already has a plus from me (which may seem stupid to a lot of people, but I think that it takes skill) but a band that can not only keep me interested in a twenty minute long song is one that I give a lot of credit to. I think it also takes a lot of confidence for a band like this to put a song on an album that is half instrumental, and that half is actually done with clean guitar (for the most part); and there are plenty of other tracks that have extended instrumental sections as well. But, this album isn't perfect, and I did have a couple of gripes with it, though they really aren't huge in my book. The first would be some of the lower squeals and gutturals which are used on As Written In Pnakotus, an otherwise fantastically written song that is slow and atmospheric, it's not a major gripe, but I'm just not huge into those sort of vocals. The other one that I have is with the drum-programming on Equilibrium, which felt overly digital and mechanical in comparison to every other song on the album which felt more natural.
Trust me when I say that I wouldn't review a band that's called "deathcore" unless I really thought it was worth hearing. This is the first band in a long while that I can recall actually enjoying that has come from a deathcore beginning, and I anxiously await the next release from this group, though it will definitely be hard to top this album. I definitely recommend this to any fan of extreme metal, I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Overall Score: 9
Highlights: Of Gallows, Equilibrium, The Man With No Face