Review Summary: 41 minutes of meh-lodic death metal.
When I think of all the people vilifying Through the Eyes of the Dead for reasons out of their control I get angry, but when I see people label them as a Metalcore I laugh. Yes, the band has breakdowns and yes, their fans are cross-dressing girl-pant wearing spin-kicking wieners, but like it or lump it Through the Eyes of the Dead are a melodic death metal band. So with that said, Malice
is their second full length and their first album without vocalist Anthony Gunnells, who has since been replaced by Nate Johnson.
The vocal change is instantly noticeable. Where Anthony Gunnells thrived with violent, shrieky highs and relatively strong range, Nate's vocals are low, guttural and relatively beige. His range is limited, though he does try to hit some highs here and there. For better or worse, the vocals prompt a pretty harsh change in the group's dynamic. While it's easy to say Anthony was far more capable, it's even easier to understand why he's gone. Bloodlust
, their last effort, was laced with overly distorted vocals and, if the rumours are true, Anthony was far too concerned with alcohol to actually focus on his music career. I guess my point is I don't have one. There's a new vocalist and he's average, I guess.
The loss of Anthony does however bring the loss of vocal distortion, a major plus. Along with the clearer/shit
tier vocals comes crisp, professional production, which dampens the aggression. Beyond the vocals and production values the music is relatively unchanged; the band still plays the American blend of melodic death metal. Malice
is littered in formulas, each song a calculated exercise in repetition. Nearly every track follows the same pattern: firstly, the group tends to introduce a melodic riff or lead, followed by monotonous drumming (which I'll get to), a violent passage, re-introduction to that riff and an extended breakdown. The album is, to its chagrin, far too formulaic and this is the main reason why people write these guys off.
The drums have always been a point of interest with the group, who've since replaced long-time drummer Dayton Cantley with Josh Kulick. Dayton Cantley could be easily characterised by his astoundingly fast footwork and precise drumming, and while it was overly clicky (either due to triggers or the tightness of the drums), his performance was always varied and highly impressive. Josh Kulick on the other hand seems lost, confused on how to branch out beyond the standards blast, thrash and crash. Dayton Cantley used to be a draw to the band; Josh Kulick sounds like he's having trouble keeping up.
Their first two releases, one EP and another split, were relatively well received melo-death albums, lauded for their ferocity and delivery. By comparison, Bloodlust
are chock full of filler and repetition, which do nothing but limit the plusses and expose the faults. Where Bloodlust
was marred by meaningless dead-air and overly distorted vocals Malice
is plagued by general monotony. As stated, songs on the album retain a very similar structure and the vocals are brutal but disposable.
Obviously I'm pointing out the negatives because they're plentiful, but there are some positives to be found if you take it one song at a time. The music is still more interesting than the Job for a Cowboy's of the world and while it's monotonous and repetitive, it's still relatively enjoyable. Through the Eyes of the Dead are sadly going to be forever plagued by their inability to write an entire album, and the monotony the new members bring isn't doing them any favours.