Review Summary: Belay My Last are a new band on a small label out to gain some major respect.
Technical death metal can be described as…well technical, odd sounding time signatures and riffs that require an ‘outside the box’ beat to go along with them. Bands like Necrophagist, Beneath the Massacre, and The Faceless try to bring something new to the tech metal table. Now the thing I’ve realized with technical death metal is that it is either a hit or miss. Either an album will come along and just blow people away (i.e. The Faceless.) Or other albums just find themselves coming up short sometimes (i.e. Beneath the Massacre.) Now the newest member to the tech metal family is Belay My Last, now I can guarantee that there are not many people outside of MySpace that has heard of this band. But one thing this album does do is provide a fun listening experience throughout. Blast beats, varied vocals, interesting guitar lines and some pretty decent bass playing (when you can hear it.) Altogether this album sounds pretty good. But it is not without its faults.
The one thing that exists in any genre of music, especially when you’re listening to a bands/artists album is mediocrity. Every listener wants to listen to an album and have a different experience through each song on the record to create an overall effect that the album will have upon the listener. Belay My Last among other artists suffer from the lack of originality from song to song on some albums. Some songs blend together and sound scarily similar to other songs on the record. Also some of the songs seem like they may be intended as filler. Although I personally feel that they did a good job on just about every song on this record, I can see where people might think some songs are filler. Also one thing that may not appeal to a lot of people is the vocals. His vocals are a mix of the now typical death metal low and a sort of grunt that can only be described as unique. But altogether I think the vocals fit the music that they play very well.
The guitars and bass on this album are very tight. They succeed in pulling of a sound that sounds new and refreshing. They play riffs and lines that are technical in their own right but they don’t over-indulge the listener with riffs that have completely weird timed parts and groove sections that don’t have much groove to them. Belay My Last succeed in showing off their skills without making the songs hard to listen to. The other thing that plagues death metal albums is a lot of albums contain songs that sound very similar to another one, either on the same album or from someone else. Surprisingly they succeed in creating an album full of songs that hold their own and maintain a different sound throughout all of them. There are not too many songs on this album that sound similar to another one, which is very refreshing to hear coming from a new group such as this. Now where they succeed in making each song sound different, they fail in making some of them a memorable listen bringing into context the dreaded ‘filler’ tracks. Now as I said above I (personally) think they did a good job at making some pretty good songs, but I can see where someone might find a certain song a ‘boring’ listen.
One thing I have yet to mention is the drumming on the album. These days an album must have a phenomenal drummer, with bars constantly being raised, you just can’t have a lazy drummer. Drums, (especially in a tech metal release) must be precise and on the button 100% of the time or it comes off sounding weird or just altogether ruining the listening experience. Ilai "lil' Loo" handles the drumming on this record and he does a good job at keeping up with the pace of the record and comes up with some interesting patterns. But he doesn’t do anything that is going to make your jaw drop or rewind the album to hear it again, so having said that, in my opinion the drumming actually works against the album. Having the two guitarists try and come up with interesting riffs and time signatures, then having a drummer who just ‘gets the job done’ doesn’t go well together in any sense of the phrase. I feel that the drumming nowadays needs to be above average to make the listener really feel like the band is trying to make something that is altogether pushing the boundaries of their playing abilities.
In conclusion this album is good, not great but good. It has some awesome guitar structures and riffage, but at the end of the day, it’s an album that isn’t going to blow your mind. It is very refreshing to hear a band try and make their ‘own’ sound from an already oversaturated genre and I feel that they do succeed in that sense. But where they succeed in that area they don’t in creating a cohesive listening experience that is going to make this album more than an album you put in, every once and a while.