Review Summary: Elevated by 3 brilliant songs, the remain songs on this album are pretty much rehashes of the same pretty poor riffs.
And it all starts so very well. The intro the End of the Line has so much atmosphere and ambience. The build up is brilliantly orchestrated and the production allows the soaring background sounds to add real depth. The rest of the song I like just as much, and the contrast between the powerful beginning and brutal riff makes it seem tat little bit heavier. Based purely on this song, the album is a killer.
So, what goes wrong from the final note of End of the Line? Well, its not really the band. While the musicianship isn't exactly stratospheric, they aren't complete slouches either, particularly Dez's vocals and John Boeklin's drums, the latter of which lights up End of the Line and Hold Back the Day. They play pretty tightly, and while there doesn't appear to be a spiritual connection between them they seem a good band.
The production is pretty good too. There is an edgy quality to the guitar sound, and yes the bass might as well not be there it certainly doesn't sound empty like a badly produced metal album does. Colin Richardson (producer) has done an excellent job on Dez's vocals too, giving him a distinctive sound.
I think the only plausible answer is the fact that most of the songs just aren't very good. There are some good ones. End of the Line and Hold Back the Day elevate the album to a 2.5. Hold Back the Day with its devilish chorus riff and another brilliant intro. The title track too has an engaging riff as well as an atmospheric clean vocal over the outro which makes it well worth a listen.
The rest however are made up of similar sounding riffs and uninspired chorus. Sin and Sacrifice is overlong with many of the riffs just happy to sound like the others. Driving Down the Darkness is hardly noteworth of anything except being a filler and coming off very badly in comparison to End of the Line. Meahnwhile, all the other songs just sound exactly like each other. Through Ripped Apart to Bear Witness unto, there is less variation and inventiveness in 5 songs than Opeth fit into one.
Before the Hangmans Noose is sub par for a different reason. Whilst the riff is pummeling and pretty heavy, it is let down by some truly appaling and cliched lyrics. An example? 'No more stops, time to punch your ticket this time this ride is one way.' Three cliches in one line, and they don't stop. Cliched lyrics fill the album, along with some downright stupid ones, the best example being Sin and Sacrifice's 'Lost Sleep, count sheep.' Please.
So, despite an excellent start and a few very good songs, the amount of filler tracks suffocates any chance this album had of being any real good. Though the band aren't a bad group, and Dez's vocals are pretty strong, the material they turn out is unoriginal, uninventive and further let down by some truly appaling lyrics.