Review Summary: melodic death metal for the masses (and Living Sacrifice fanboys)
I first heard of Soul Embraced from a friend of mine who is a total Living Sacrifice fanboy. He said that a couple members of LS were also in a side project called Soul Embraced and that I should check out the newest album entitled Dead Alive. Not being a real fan of Living Sacrifice, this worried me as I figured it would be another all out thrash (?) fest. Within the first 30 seconds I realized the truth: This is not like Living Sacrifice; not even in the same ballpark.
So what exactly makes Soul Embraced different from Living Sacrifice? Well for one this is a full on death metal record. Vocalist Chad Moore brings a unique harsh vocal style, which is closest in similarity to vocals off of Zao or early Haste the Day. These vocals set the stage for LS members Rocky Gray and Lance Garvin who lay down a backbone of speed riffs, intense drumming and melodic leads to create a atmosphere of intensity that whirls around the listener. Recently departed guitarist Devin Castle adds to the guitar assault and bassist Jeff Bowie provides the non-existent low tones on Dead Alive.
The listener is introduced to Dead Alive with an acoustic introducing, which lasts all of 45 seconds before all hell (or heaven) breaks loose. To End It All sees a combination of intense riffs that pummel the listener until the occasional melodic passage comes in to calm things down just a tad. This seems to be the formula that most of the songs follow, with the occasional solo or breakdown thrown in for kicks. Although Dead Alive sticks to a similar formula throughout, there is enough variety to make this a engaging listen. Songs like To End It All and Kill This feature catchy melodic leads that drive the songs along, while others such as Devil's Reflection and Bloodstained Nevada just pound the listener in the head like a giant with a hammer. The drumming on this album is exceptional, with Lance Garvin making a case for himself as one of the better drummers in metal today. Although most of it is standard rapid double bass, Garvin provides enough interesting fills and variety to make the drumming one of the focal points on Dead Alive.
Although there is a lot to like about Dead Alive, there is a few things that may drive away the casual listener, and that keeps this album from soaring above a 4. The vocals, while unique and quality throughout the album, may irk some listeners as they tend to get irritating after a while if you are not a fan of the style. The album also suffers from a very slight bit of repetitiveness. Although the acoustic intro in To End It All and the instrumental In Memory provide a nice change of pace, the overall relentlessness of this album may be too much for some listeners.
Overall Dead Alive is a good pick up if you are a fan of melodic death metal, a Living Sacrifice fanboy, or just looking for something new to add to your arsenal of Converge, Death, and other metal bands.
(On a personal note, this band frustrates me because I've went to two shows expecting to see them, and they backed out of both!)