Review Summary: The best? No. Worth a place in your rotation? Completely.3 of 3 thought this review was well written
Becoming the Archetype is:
Jason Wisdom – Bass/Vocals
Jon Star – Lead Guitar
“Count” Seth Hecox – Guitar/keyboards
Brent “Duck” Duckett – Drums
Formally known as The Remnant, Becoming the Archetype released their first album Terminate Damnation
(named after the Mortification album) which was hailed by many as one of the best Christian Metal albums in recent years. It successfully combined elements of Death Metal, Thrash, and even Classical with Metalcore, resulting in an odd, yet completely satisfying mix. This is the defining album of BTA. After a lineup change resulting in the loss of several members, Becoming the Archetype released The Physics of Fire
. It was a definite change of pace for the band, it focused much more on the technical aspect of the music, and as such most of the emotion or “feel” was lost. Instead of the varied vocals found on Terminate Damnation
, Jason Wisdom settled into a medium range scream, making many tracks similar in style and hard to differentiate from each other. All in all, this album plays more like a demonstration of new guitarist Alex Kenis’ talents, with the band changing to fit his style rather than playing as a whole. Even so, a few stand out tracks emerged: Immolation, Endure, and The Monolith come to mind. So, to which album does Dichotomy
The answer is yes.
shows the leaving of Alex Kenis, and the return of former guitarist Jon Star. This is a very good thing. Not to say Kenis is a bad player in the least, but let’s say that he was definitely the odd one out. Also of note is Jon’s acoustic work, seen primarily in St. Anne’s Lullaby and How Great Thou Art. Jason’s vocals are also mostly back to form. Sadly, his highs are not as high and his lows not as low. He does have an instantly recognizable voice and well enunciated words, making lyrics easier to understand. His bass work is underwhelming though, but that’s to be expected in any album of the genre. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the lineup is “Count” Seth’s keyboard work, which opens Self Existent nicely and lends an electronic feel to Deep Heaven. Brent’s work behind the kit (I am unsure if he did work on this album or not) is nothing average. He always remains a solid and consistent backdrop to the rest of the band, providing strength to the heavy parts and rhythm to the more melodic parts. Also kept to a minimum is the “china whoring” that many drummers seem especially led to. Let’s get to the actual songs, eh?
The album opens with Mountain of Souls. It starts off very Death influenced, grabbing you by your nethers, and not letting go until about half way through, where the keyboards take over and producer Devin Townsend lends his clean vocals. All in all, it is a solid opener for the album. Next we have the title track, my personal favorite. This track showcases all of the elements of the album and the band, and also features my favorite lyrics. It shows the guitars spot on, featuring one of the best solos. Wisdom’s vocals are brutal and dare I say, beastly. Ryan Clark of Demon Hunter performs also, singing the second of the album’s two clean parts. The main problem I do have is that other than the “bookend” songs, none stand out. All are musically and technically sound, but can be difficult to remember without listening to the beginning first. Moving on to St. Anne’s Lullaby, we arrive at the usual instrumental. Bearing in mind that Jon’s last was “Night’s Sorrow” on their first album, this song is its spiritual successor. Consisting entirely of acoustic guitar, it’s not as amazing as its predecessor, but provides a nice break in the middle of the album. The next standout is of course the cover of the hymn, How Great Thou Art. In a gutsy move, BTA abandons the Carrie Underwood route and injects a healthy dose of Metal into this classic’s heart. Starting with the aforementioned acoustic guitar, the song explodes about 40 seconds in. Of special mention are Jason Wisdom and Brent Duckett. Jason provides his most diverse range on this song, still not up to what it was originally, but close enough. Brent gives plenty of double bass, notably in the form of his trademark (at least to my ears that is) tom/bass rolls. The last and longest track is End of the Age. It is as close to an “epic” as one is likely to find on Dichotomy. Coming in at 6:30, this song is another favorite of mine. It wraps up the album very nicely, showcasing each of the band members and their respective talents.
So, where does all this leave Dichotomy
? In strong form to be sure. Leaving behind the somewhat mediocre offerings found in The Physics of Fire
feels much more like the actual successor to Terminate Damnation
. Instead of focusing solely on Mr. Kenis’ guitar, all band members are given equal limelight. No one pulls too far ahead of the others, as so many bands are apt to do, and no “wankery” exists. The breakdowns are spaced far apart, and never drag down the song. Most if not all of the Metalcore influences are toned down, and a Progressive Death sound permeates Dichotomy
. Being that this is
after all a Christian band, the lyrics will hit home with some, and not with others. However, being that this is also a Christian Metal
band, the lyrics are easy enough to ignore, and should not be the sole reason for disliking this. All in all, Becoming the Archetype has written a heavy and fairly diverse album that any fan of the genre should find something in for them.
How Great Thou Art
End of the Age