Review Summary: Chelsea Grin have made an obvious change in direction, but which direction are they headed?
Deathcore is a seemingly doomed genre. It is a host to musical content that is plagued with an abundance of uncreative riffs, uncreative lyrics, and worst of all - breakdowns. Consequently, more and more bands are trying to jump off of the bandwagon and create an identity for themselves. Chelsea Grin made an obvious change in direction with their newest release, Evolve. The problem is, which direction are they headed?
Now before I go into this review, I'd like to point out that if you hated the vocals on the last Chelsea Grin record, My Damnation, then you're going to hate them even more on this one. They're loud in the mix, and since deathcore is a very vocal oriented genre, they're not easy to overlook. The vocals will ruin the record for you, and I suggest you just leave this one alone. Now, on to the review.
Track 1 - The Second Coming:
“The Second Coming” is arguably the best track on the EP. It has good use of synthesized orchestration that creates a sinister type of atmosphere for the song, especially in the introduction, where it builds up before the entire band enters. Guitarist Jason Richardson's leads are well utilized throughout the song, and they make the song very interesting to listen to. They provide a Born of Osiris type of vibe, but they sound more evil than they do ambient. Alex's vocals are either a hit or a miss on this song and on this record, as stated earlier. They sound very shrill and very raw. The track has an abundance of breakdowns, but they are used well within the context of the song, and often have Richardson playing over them. 3-3.5/5
Track 2 - Lilith:
“Lilith” is one of the in-between tracks on the record. It continues from the synthesized orchestral ending section of "The Second Coming" and goes into a tremolo picked riff that is essentially what really starts off the song. The song then continues into a "chugga-chugga" riff over a blast beat that then goes into a breakdown. Following the breakdown is a spoken word section that, for me, is reminiscent of bands like KoRn. However, the spoken word section comes off as very whiny and is not very pleasing to hear. Following the spoken word section is a clean vocal part. The transition into the clean vocals is abrupt, and the cleans don't fit the context of the song at all. The rest of the song is a mush of unnecessary breakdowns and unfitting leads, the only exception being a little bass lick near the end of the song. 2.5/5
Track 3 – S.H.O.T. & Track - 4 Confession:
I did these two tracks together because they were fairly uninteresting tracks. Not to say that they were necessarily bad (they had their fair share of guitar noodling & wankery), but the overuse of breakdowns balanced out the leads and made the songs sound very generic. These two are just standard deathcore songs, and are my least favorites on the record. 1.5-2/5
Track 5 - Don't Ask, Don't Tell:
This track is essentially a deathcore ballad. It's different from anything Chelsea Grin has ever done, and I'm not entirely sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing. The track is comprised of clean vocal choruses, spoken word verses, melodic guitar lines, and of course – breakdowns. It's both interesting and uninteresting at the same time, and I find it neither a hit or a miss track, but an in-between. 2.5-3/5
Looking past the individual tracks, Evolve as a whole just doesn't flow well. Sure, the songs sound different from one another, but as far as the future is concerned, it's impossible to tell where Chelsea Grin is headed. This EP is evidence that Chelsea Grin could either be a prospering, interesting deathcore band, or just another band that plays excessive breakdowns for the sake of inciting mosh warriors to fight ghosts.