Review Summary: Of Salt and Swine release a bitter album which had high expectations.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
Metalcore is a crippled genre, filled with too many bands over-chugging their way to scene-stardom and not enough bands going above and beyond the call of duty to create something new and worth listening to. Like a kid with two broken legs on a stationary bike, metalcore is going nowhere. Of Salt and Swine’s new, anticipated album Lights Out
was promoted as a hybrid between the “crushing, brutal” antics of breakdown-core, and spirited technicality, which sounds promising, but as it turns out, is not what it was advertised as.
In its intentions as a hybrid between the technical and “heavy” sides of metalcore, Lights Out
fails completely. Rather than an even spread of heaviness and uplifting technicality, Lights Out is more or less a plate of breakdowns sprinkled with some fun guitar lines and fill-heavy drumming. Does this make it a terrible album? Surprisingly, no. Lights Out
, while maybe not the cream of the crop as far as instrumentation or vocal prowess goes, is still a relatively fun and accessible album for people from breakdown enthusiasts (like myself) to tech-death metal-heads looks for a relaxing--if not monotonous--break from the chaos of face-melting riffs and seizure-inducing drumming.
However, before analyzing what Of Salt and Swine failed at in Lights Out
, it’s worth mentioning what they excelled at. Breakdowns? Check. Every song on this album has at least one crushing heavy section that sends the song into a chaotic maelstrom of sound and anger. Solid drumming? Check. In some tracks more than others, the drumming (bass drum timing especially) excels above the chug-a-lug guitar line and low, guttural vocals. The title track is a stellar example of smooth, but strange bass drum ability. Lyrics? Check. While they may not be consistent, there are moments where through nothing short of infantile anger, the vocalist enables you to relate to whatever it is he’s ranting about--from a broken society, love turned sour, or bashing some dude’s face in with a hammer.
Speaking of getting bashed in the face with a hammer, there are elements of this album that are about as pleasing. One of which, and possibly the most principal issue regarding Lights Out
being the absurdly monotonous vocals. While the vocals are fitting for the mood the majority of the album: low, and visceral, that’s no excuse to beat the same dead horse for an entire release. The greater problem with the monotonous vocals is the sound that it bottlenecks the album into. In a vocal-centric genre, having the same vocal tone and sound will ultimately restrict what variation you have to write with--and believe me, these guys could use some variation. That’s not to say that it ruins the album--it just makes it hard to get through from beginning to end, which, on a ten track album (11 if you count the poorly made and produced but endearing cover of 3Oh!3’s “Don’t Trust Me”) is not a good sign.
While Of Salt and Swine’s Lights Out
has its good qualities and moments where melodic and heavy blend to create the single aspect the band spent an entire album trying to create, ultimately it falls short of both of its intended goals. It is neither technical enough to become “technical metalcore” or consistent enough to be anything that lasts more than a couple spins--like many other metalcore albums, Lights Out is destined to become an album that’s great…when a song or two comes up on shuffle.