Category Archives: Metalcore

Haste The Day – Dreamer [Review]

Dreamer is the fifth full-length release from Haste the Day, a band on the primarily Christian metalcore label Solid State Records. This is their second release with new vocalist Stephen Keech. Dreamer was released on October 14, 2008.

Haste the Day Dreamer

Being a fan of Haste the Day from the near beginning (Burning Bridges was where I picked them up), I was not sure whether or not the band would be ready to do something a little different this time around, especially considering the change in vocalists. Turns out that they decided to stick with the same old thing, adding a new cliché metalcore flavor to the mix. That is by far the largest downfall of the album. The songwriting sounds exactly like every other metalcore band out there these days (with very few exceptions).

Where they go right with the direction they took with Dreamer is the fact that it was executed PERFECTLY. They nailed down the sound to perfection, and it is all perfectly balanced. The album could have been moved around from song to song (the order of the track on the album is a bit strange), but each song sounds great. The new vocalist has the perfect voice for Christian Metalcore, and in my eyes is an improvement from Jimmy Ryan (don’t worry, Jimmy, you’re still great). I want to make special note of Devin Chaulk’s drumming on this album, though. Devin, that shit is TIGHT my friend. Crisp, clear, pounding, etc. Everything you could want in a drum sound for an album is right here (yeah, yeah, argue personal preference all you want).

Being the fact that it is a Christian Metalcore band, putting out a Christian Metalcore album, there is nothing more to be said. It is what it is – like most every other album in that category. At least that did it well, and did it right. It’s not a crappy hack job, and you can at least differentiate the sound from the mediocrity that is metalcore these days. A great listen, but nothing groundbreaking.

Track Picks: “68”, “Porcelain”, and “Haunting”

Overall score: 6.5 out of 10 devil horns

On a passing note, does anyone else think that the opening track sounds eerily like something from As I Lay Dying’s newest album, An Ocean Between Us? Creepy…

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All That Remains – Overcome [Review]

Overcome is the fourth full-length studio release from Springfield’s (MA) own All That Remains, one of the heavy hitters on Prosthetic Records’ solid lineup. Overcome‘s release date was officially September 16, 2008. The album’s first single will be “Chiron” and will be one of the downloadble songs for Rock Band, along with “Two Weeks”.

All That Remains Overcome

First off, let’s start with what this album did right. They capitalized on one of the few shortcomings of The Fall of Ideals, being that the new album is consistent, and does not have any overly strong or weak points. Overcome also has some really good songwriting, and makes use of some really great melodies. My favorite examples of this is the clean vocal melody in the song “Two Weeks” [track 2] or the guitar parts in “Before the Damned” [track 1] when there are no vocals (pre-verse, about 22 seconds in).

That about covers the good things about this album. Now to begin the bash-fest that will be this review from here on out.

The first thing I want to address is the vocals. The melodic vocals sound AWFUL. I really want to know what the hell happened to Philip Labonte’s voice, or why the decision was made to change the way they were. The screaming/growling vocals are very sub-par throughout the album, but are at times just as fantastic as those from The Fall of Ideals. In some instances the screaming/growling sound almost like clones from previous albums (“Before The Damned” could easily have been from The Fall of Ideals). Most cases of the more intense vocals are simply yelling, though, similar to the new Bullet For My Valentine approach. It worked for them, but certainly doesn’t fit for All That Remains.

The next issue is that the intensity is turned way down on this album. It’s still heavy and aggressive. but lacks the “oomph” that they used to have, and none of the songs hit that hard. Obviously the biggest example of something missing from Overcome are vocals like the opening few seconds of “This Calling” [Track 1 from The Fall of Ideals]. There are no longer visceral, blood-curdling screams. The guitars are no longer as intense, either. They took off a bit of the crunchiness from the guitar sound, although the style of the more rhythmic picking is still as solid (although used less frequently).

All in all, the album shows some potential, but feels overly polished and refined (well done, Jason Suecof). All That Remains have lost their edge it seems. With it’s overly consistent mediocrity, I found it hard to get into this as an album. Granted, there were a couple songs that caught my attention, those songs were addressed in the only paragraph about the good. A pleasant and un-engaging album, because of this there was not much to say about it.

Track picks: “Before the Damned” and “Chiron” (the only tracks that had balls on the album, and the songs that still give me a glimpse of hope that ATR still have it)

Overall score: 5/10 devil horns

Midheaven – The Human Abstract [Review]

Midheaven is the second full album from L.A. Based band The Human Abstract. The band released the album August 19 on Hopeless Records.

The Human Abstract Midheaven

To be quite honest, I had never really heard of this band until a friend suggested I review the album after I asked for suggestion.

I got the album, and feel entirely indifferent about it. The Human Abstract simply try to do too much with this album. The line between too much and not enough is a very fine one, and these guys simply disregarded that there was a line to being with. They decided when writing this that it would be a concept album, and when founding member and guitarist A.J. Minette left, things changed entirely.

Now to get down to business. The vocals on this album are absolutely incredible at times, but utter rubbish at others. The opening track of the album (“A Violent Strike”), being by far the best track in my opinion, most clearly shows the great capabilities of Nathan Ells. Sadly, however, this is the only track where he lets loose on the vocals. “Procession of the Fates” is similar in it’s vocal soundscape, but is quite clear that he pulls the reigns in from what he is capable of.

The guitar work. Oh, where to begin with this. I’ll say this first: never have I heard a more stereotypically erratic and mediocre sound. I could swear that I have heard everything on this album a million times before, and most times in a better way. Sure, they’re fast, who isn’t these days? Oh, sweeps? Everyone can do it, and most people do. If you want to become truly progressive, stop picking bits and pieces from stuff you have heard in rock and metal before, and find influence elsewhere. Now, normally I will not criticize a band for doing something that is not “new and exciting” but I will not hesitate to criticize a progressive band for not being “new and exciting”. The whole idea of being progressive is to push the boundaries, and really have your own unique style, this normally including something entirely new/different. All this album does is smash every different style they have been influenced end-to-end, and in a choppy way at that.

The real strength of this album is it’s ability to appear to a wide range of emotions and people with different tastes. As a person who enjoys a wide range of musical styles, I could appreciate the small things that work well in this album, such as the keyboard parts in “Metanoia”. The soundscape of this album really is impressive, and a bit too much at times. As with many avant-garde, progressive, and mathcore albums the skill of the musicians feels forced all too often. With the mathcore nature of the guitar parts that are used throughout the album this is almost inevitable, with mathcore being the fickle beast that it is.

All in all, I enjoyed the album because of the fronts it was able to deliver on, but it simply is not that good. Mediocre at best.

Track picks: “A Violent Strike” and “This World A Tomb”

Overall Score: 5/10 Devil horns

Throwdown – Venom & Tears [Review]

Venom & Tears is the fifth full-length release from California metal band Throwdown. The album was released August 7, 2007.

Throwndown Venom and Tears

Funny story about the album artwork, when they released the CD, all the booklets had two small holes punched where you see the bite marks on the girl’s neck. In fact, every other page in the booklet has a picture with bite marks, each of which lines up with the holes. Sure, it’s gimmicky, but it’s fresh, and I for one happen to like it.

Now, onto the actual album. I am very hesitant to say this, but when people say this album sounds like something from Pantera, they’re right. It’s take straight out of Dimebag, Phil, and the gang’s playbook. Obviously, it’ not as good as most of the Pantera stuff that people know, but it is better than their old, lesser known stuff.

The album begins with the first single from the album, “Holy Roller” wish starts of with a fast, brutal thrash guitar part, something straight out of the 80’s, then you hear the first glimpse of the “Pantera sound” from the guys. The vocals are spot on for a Phil Anselmo vocal track. sans the incredible wailing that Phil could once do (sadly, he is now incapable of such awesomeness). The problem I have with the track, though, is the TERRIBLE mastering that was done to it. Directly from the CD it has avery muddy, bass-heavy sound.The one song that seemed to be the exception of poor mixing, however, was “I, Suicide”. It was still very bass-heavy, but not muddy. The highs from the symbols were very crisp, unlike all the other songs, as was the vocals. It was quite refreshing, pairing that with the fun use of stereo on the track. During the chorus, the lyrics are “I, suicide” and each word is on a different channel (and track, for added effect). VERY cool.

Anyway, the mixing seemed to be a pretty consistent problem throughout the album, although it was at it’s worst during “Holy Roller”. The latter half of the album has considerably better mastering, but it is still quite bad compared to anything reasonable. The other qualities of the sound are pretty good, though. The guitar and vocals especially. The timbres work very well together, and sound very brutal and brash – just right for a thrash metal album.

The songwriting on this album is quite, shall I say, formulaic? There are no songs that really deviate from they typical thrash metal song style: raw riffage, pounding rhythms, growling verses, powerful choruses, and some solos here and there when appropriate. This is not a problem, however. True thrash metal albums these days a few and far between.

To be honest, I really didn’t want to like this album. It sounded like crap from the beginning, and just pissed me off. Then a thought occurred ‘Wow, this album really did it’s job.’ It’s fast, it’s angry, it’s brutal, it’s balls to the wall, it’s in your face, it’s [insert metal cliché here], etc. I was once told something that is very much in effect for this album: “The closer something comes to perfection, the more glaringly obvious it’s imperfections become.” I can’t remember where I heard it, but it’s true. There are so many things that this album does right, it’s really obvious where it went wrong.

Track picks: “Holy Roller” and “Godspeed”

Overall score: 8/10 devil horns