Review Summary: Shredding Metalcore with a southern drawl
The Demonstration is an up and coming five piece from North Carolina. This last October, (2008) they released their newest effort, “Accidents With Intelligence.” Being that this is a metalcore outfit, I’m sure you’ve heard them labeled “generic” by default of playing metalcore, and I’m just as certain that if this review gets any comments, that you will hear the same accusation from your fellow sputnikers. Fortunately for potential fans, I paid enough attention while listening so that I can confidently proclaim that this cd has a very interesting combination of the different sounds within the metalcore genre, not to mention some top shelf performances by the musicians.
You may have already heard that four out of the five members of The Demonstration (everyone but the singer) also plays live with Killwhitneydead. After some digging on the internet I discovered that the Demonstration was a band in itself first, and the members are basically helping out KWD on the road. This becomes apparent the second you insert accidents with intelligence into your cd player because the two bands are harshly different from one another. I would describe KWD as ADD death core with movie quotes littered through every song, where the Demonstration has more of a Generic* (*Translation: Catchy, memorable, focused) sound. I know what you’re thinking….I hate bands with songs I can remember too! If you really hate straight forward metal core than you can just leave this album alone. The Demonstration aren't out to reinvent the metalcore wheel, they just want to rip hard and have fun. I think they've succeeded.
One of the first things one will notice about the songs on Accidents With Intelligence is the unique blend of metalcore styles the band has put together. The first song, which serves as an effective intro track, starts out with a rock metal riff over corresponding chords. A few seconds later you’re hearing the same fairly speedy riff being harmonized in a very euro metal fashion as the drums and bass hold down a heavy stutter-chug breakdown. Southern swagger is showcased again on track 2, “The Marionette.” The infectious vocal hook “Without an anchor, we’re left with empty hands” this is the moment in the song where the vocals switch gears from booming growls to a melodic southern drawl. The Marionette is one of many songs on this cd that are going to stick with you like white on rice in a glass of milk on a paper plate in a snow storm.
As musicians, the members of this band all command respect, but perhaps none more so than the two guitar players. These guys have riffs like Dairy Queen has blizzard flavors. These guys touch on just about every style within metalcore. They transition from busy thrashy riffs, and then throw in some euro tech-metal shredding, followed by driving southern ‘core styling that would fit right in at a biker bar in Mississippi. When its time to shred these guys don’t like to take turns, so they shred in unison... fast! This adds that European thrash sound that is often attempted in metalcore but rarely achieved. These whirlwind leads having a very nice tone similar to what you'd find with Between the Buried and Me. You won’t see your run of the mill guitar players playing solo’s like the one found in “A Very Calculating Snake," one of the most rockin’ leads I’ve heard since Shadows Falls’ “The Art of Balance”
The vocals are the second highlight of the album. Zach Messick has a very wide range of capabilities. With a very strong scream that falls somewhere in-between the metalcore, and death core styles which makes for a good aggressive sound. It also allows him to annunciate well enough so you don’t have to check the lyric sheet constantly to know what he’s talking about. He also boasts a very respectable set of singing pipes, which go anywhere from dirty rock vocals to fairly high clean style. He hits some pretty high notes on this record, check out the chorus to “Deadpan” he’s getting up into Brad Delk (of Boston) range there! He actually uses clean vocals a lot on the cd, but the band never forgets “the heavy” and everything fits well enough so that nothing feels forced. Many bands now are trying to force more clean singing into their material at the expense of the song, but The Demonstration has done well in letting the vocal styles fall where they fit best.
The Bass and drums are fairly standard for a big metalcore band. The word “standard” in this context in no way means that these two are amateurs. They also have a lot of responsibility in holding the foundation of the song down while the guitarists are in shred mode, which is fairly often. The drums seem to play it a little too safe for my taste. While his instincts are for the most part right on, you'd like to see him show off a little bit and take a few more chances. There is a fine line of course between adding some flare to the drum part, and throwing all groove out the door. It can be done in this style however, look at Mike Justian's work on Unearth's "The Oncoming Storm."
All the songs on Accidents With Intelligence are tastefully written, and have staying power without being a slave to radio rock formulas. The band does an excellent Job at seamlessly combining the many forms of metalcore that they draw from. Nothing sounds forced or out of place. There are a couple songs in which they come back certain riffs one too many times, but on the whole they do a good job at preventing the listener from getting bored. As was mentioned before, the guitarists never seem to be at a loss for good riffs. With as much pop sensibility as the disc has, they still have just as much (if not more) RIPPING heavy parts. Of course, the band has not forsaken the good old’ techie breakdown, which in this case are as heavy as concrete slabs. Most of said breakdowns are spiced up with leads filling the negative space between chugging. The last song on the cd is a mystery. The band decided to cover Third Eye Blind’s “How’s It Going to Be.” There’s not much to say about it except: They do a good job, they didn’t change hardly anything, and I still am struggling to find the point of including it on the cd.
Accidents With Intelligence is a veritable amusement park for metalcore fans. There really is something for just about everyone. I will say with some relief that the band has not jumped on the blast beat followed by Acacia Strain-chord breakdowns, that might bum some of you out, but you can’t please everyone. If the drummer and bass player can push the envelope a little more, (think Misery Signals or August Burns Red) and they stick with this super catchy yet still brutal style they’ve got going, don’t be surprised to see The Demonstration rubbing elbows with the Unearths and Killswitch’s of the metal world. Bottom line, this cd is a blast. It may not be a metalcore epic but you get a good value for your entertainment dollar. (The Tracks make for a really fun live experience if you get a chance to see them.) Accidents With Intelligence is great example of why you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. There are bad bands in any genre, but there’s also bands in that genre that play it faster, more skillfully, and write better songs. These bands will always do well no matter how many not so great bands happen to be in the same genre.