Review Summary: Death/Thrash/Groove/Whatever-Metal.
I hate delays.
I'm not goddamn kidding. When one of my favorite bands decides to delay a long-awaited album, whether it be the fault of the label, or personal troubles, it is one of the single most annoying things in the world. Sure, their singer may have left, and their bassist may have committed suicide, but I need my instant gratification.
When everyone's favorite Arkansas thrash/death/groove/whatever-metal band announced that they were to delay their album until late January (I think this was in November 2009), you can imagine my annoyance. 1997's Reborn is one of my most played albums in my extensive itunes library, and if these guys even thought about pulling a Lil' Wayne on me, drastic measures would have to be taken. But, in the extra 2-3 month wait, I became more and more pumped for this anticipated release, so by the time they began streaming it on their Myspace, I was totally psyched. I think that the delay may have even increased my enjoyment of the album, so in a way, I must thank LS for putting it off for so long.
But talk about enjoyment. The band's previous releases had showed great potential, with catchy riffs, face-melting solos, unique vocals, and above-average drumming. Their distinct, and, dare I say it, original, death-thrash/groove metal style had always intrigued me. Songs like "Spirit Fall" convinced me that these guys could become monsters in the metal market. But all their previous albums had one common flaw: the production. While it wasn't the most terrible thing in the world, it was an annoyance for me how many of the songs managed to blend together because of often sub-par production. But, fortunately for the world, they have officially fixed this nuisance with the release of The Infinite Order. The production here is stellar: the drums are tight, the guitars are crisp, the vocals are clear, and the bass is audible. So far, the only place these guys can go is up.
As I said before, these guys have an intriguing style. The first thing one may notice about the album is the vocal work by singer Bruce Fitzhugh. His distinct dry-sounding rasp is the biggest factor in making an LS song, well, Living Sacrifice. It has a certain death metal influence in its aggressive delivery, but still manages to steer clear of sounding like every other cookie-monster worshiper out there. For a great example, try the opener Overkill Exposure. His vocal attack is harsh and unrelenting in this track, and that, combined with some of the best drums on the album, and some very cool guitar lines, make it one of the best tracks on the album.
The guitar work is another highlight here. While none of the riffs are incredibly technical to the level of, say, Cryptopsy, they manage to hold the listener's attention. The heavily groove/thrash influenced riffs are incredibly catchy, and make for some tracks that, combined with speedy drumming, invoke a sudden desire to smah yourself on the head repeatedly with a brick. It also may be noticed that, as far as guitar work goes, these guys are very adept at tremolo picking. In fact, it seems to be the staple of many of their songs. Nietzsche's Madness, for example has some very fast alternate picking, as well as the added bonus of a very discordant, very satisfying solo.
The album is not, however, without its downfalls. One particular thing that irked me here was the inclusion of a few, dare I say it, clean vocals. When I say clean vocals, I mean nothing like your typical modern metalcore vocals, in the vein of TDWP. These are deep, harsh, grating, and aggressive clean vocals, which complement the deep, harsh, grating, and aggressive lead vocals well. Well, they would, if they were used right. Unfortunately, in most cases in which they are utilized, they don't fit the song. Take Rules of Engagement. The lead single for the album, while not being the strongest on the album, this has the potential to be a fairly memorable song. It all goes well until the chorus, where those annoying clean vocals are thrown in with the leads. I dunno, maybe it's all a matter of personal taste, and these vocals make the song for some people, but they aren't my cup-o-tea, and for me ruin what could've been a good song. They are also used, to a slightly better effect, on They Were One.
So overall, this is a very strong comeback for the boys from Arkansas, and it may very well be their best record to date. With the stellar production, the groovy, thrashy guitar riffs, the grating vocals, and, unlike many extreme metal bands, the memorable and unique song structures and ideas, this may very well be the album that pulls these guys out of the underground and puts them on the metal map for good.
God is My Home