Review Summary: Not bad, not bad...
I can’t remember the last time a band was so highly thought of and severely disliked at the same time as JFAC are. Metal elitists refuse to mention their name in the same sentence as death metal unless they're protesting against them, whilst others will argue that they're the next titans of the very same genre. Well after finally getting around to listening to JFAC’s debut album I can say that this is without doubt most definitely death metal. Anyone who says otherwise is clearly deluded.
That’s not to say it’s the best death metal album in recent times or is it in anyway on par with albums such as Cryptopsy’s ‘None So Vile’ or Morbid Angel’s ‘Blessed are the Sick’ but it’s certainly not as bad as so many critics would lead you to believe. I imagine the majority have either based their opinion on word-of-mouth or what they've heard on the bands ‘Doom’ EP. Well, unlike the EP there are no breakdowns in this whatsoever so those of you who are ‘anti-core’ can throw that whiny excuse for not liking the band out of the window. Still, even if JFAC were to use breakdowns, that shouldn’t be a major problem. Plenty of death metal bands use them (perhaps more tastefully) in their music e.g. Suffocation, but you don’t see so many death metal fanatics complaining about that now do you?
Anyway, despite the fact that JFAC have grown out of the deathcore genre they’ve been tagged with throughout their short career, doesn’t make this a record without its flaws. It’s definitely a more mature effort (they’ve decided to remove the pig squeals completely) and the songs flow far better and are more structured than they were on ‘Doom’, but excluding a few standout tracks, this is a considerably average death metal album. ‘Bearing the Serpents Lamb’ is an awesome introduction. Brutal and in-your-face, it kicks off the album in style with some heavy, fast riffage and manic drumming, while ‘Embedded’ contains some really catchy mid-tempo lead work and a solo which is particularly fitting of the song. ‘Coalescing Prophecy’ ends the album on an absolute high with what is the fastest, heaviest song on the album. The last half of the song is what makes it so great, with Elliott Sellers pummelling away and utilising the entirety of his drum kit; the very heavy, rapid, down-tuned riffs and the harsh guttural roars provided by Jonny Davy.
Most of the other songs follow suit to aforementioned combination of heavy and fast, and fundamentally that’s the albums downfall. It’s all just far too similar. Apart from the tracks that are obviously different e.g. the interludes, you can barely differentiate between when each track has ended or started. There are examples where they’ve obviously attempted to diversify their sound ala ‘The Divine Falsehood’, a very doomy, atmospheric song that’s well structured and displays another side of the band. It’s encouraging as it shows they have great potential that they’ll hopefully build on in future releases. It appears they’ve taken a liking to atmospheric interludes as well and decided to throw two of them into the mix but it just feels like they did this to increase the play time of the album, which at around a mere thirty minutes isn’t very long, and to pull your attention away from the fact that this album is repetitive. It doesn’t help that ‘Upheaval’ is just far too long and unnecessary, although ‘Blasphemy’ works as a decent enough build-up to ‘The Divine Falsehood’.
Genesis is a vast improvement for JFAC and definitely a step in the right direction. The vocals are impressive enough, with Jonny Davy switching from death metal roars to shrieks with ease. Instrumentally, they’re technically capable and as they mature further, all aspects of the band, especially their song writing, should improve with their next album. A debut album with a few flaws, but a solid attempt nonetheless. Whether death metal fans will accept this though, is another story.