Review Summary: Bring on the breakdowns!
Conducting From the Grave’s 2009 full length, When Legends Become Dust, presented the metal community with something that had been lacking for quite some time: decent deathcore. It’s not that When Legends Become Dust was ground breaking, completely original or even Album of The Year material, it was just plain fun. It was an album that allowed for a great show of technicality and some fantastic, albeit extremely cheesy, guitar leads that kept the momentum of the album flowing. With only a year in between When Legends Become Dust and their new album, Revenants, it’s become very clear that time has not been too kind to the band.
It’s not to say, however, that Revenants is a grand departure from their sound because that would be completely untrue. The technicality of the guitar leads and the melodic lines are still present, along with strong presence from the bass and the drums, however Conducting From the Grave have fallen into the typical deathcore stereotype with an over abundance of breakdowns and songs that tend to become unmemorable and even undistinguishable from one another.
Revenants starts off with “And Our War Will Dawn” which begins with a softer, almost acoustic interlude, before the song kicks into full gear. Once it does, it sets a trend for the rest of the songs on the album: When the song gains momentum, it’s time to break it down. Guitarists John Abernathy and Jeffery Morgan do their best to keep things interesting with some good harmony and a strong showing of technicality. The solo in “And Our War Will Dawn” is a good example of this as well as the sweeping outro in “The Tyrant’s Throne.” Examples of their competency on the guitar is littered throughout the rest of the album, especially in the head of the melodies in “Her Poisoned Tongues,” “Path of a Traitor,” and the title track “Revenants.” Drummer Greg Donnelly and bassist Steven Lovas do their best to keep up with the guitars and even show spots of brilliance, however, for the most part, are kept to playing behind the guitar lines.
In the department of the vocals, Mikey Powell is a giant step up from old vocalist Lou Tanuis. Powell’s lows have a much better, if not more processed, guttural sound to them than did Tanuis on When Legends Become Dust. Also, much improved in the aspect of the vocals, are Powell’s high screams and screeches. They sound much more natural than and not as forced as Tanuis’ which allows for a much easier listen. Lyrically, Revenants is about the same as When Legends Become Dust by dealing with themes of death, destruction, and even betrayal.
In the end, all is not lost. The jazzy interludes of “Unholiest of Nightmares” and “What Monsters We Have Become, Pt.2” show that the band has not lost all touches with their more progressive side and can still execute some very excellent songwriting. However, the departure of the longer song structures seen on When Legends Become Dust has the unfortunate effect of forcing breakdowns into songs which easily disrupt the flow of the song and does not give adequate time for the melodic lines to completely mature. In the end, Conducting From the Grave must find a way to subdue their newfound love for breakdowns or run the risk of becoming another generic Sumerian band.
“Unholiest of Nightmares”
“Path of a Traitor”
“We Who Shall Conquer”