Review Summary: At last, you know what it means to hate.
The late nineties were a pivotal and highly influential period in the history of metalcore music. Albums such as Calculating Infinity
by The Dillinger Escape Plan
and We Are The Romans
helped to shape the next decade of aspiring bands and went on to be recognized as genre-defining pieces of music. However, for every pioneering group that broke through to make names for themselves, there were hundreds of others that simply faded away without a trace. Although some members of Training For Utopia
found some eventual success with Demon Hunter
, nothing they created after 1998’s Plastic Soul Impalement
recaptured the same relentless ferocity and creativity displayed on the group’s debut release. It's a textbook example of a potential classic that just never managed to stay afloat in the ultra-competitive music industry. For those who have heard it, however, Plastic Soul Impalement
stands as an extraordinary collection of tracks that every metalcore fan should have in their collection.
Simply put, this album is raw. The production is so dense that everything comes together in a wall of spastic noise, making for a truly unique listening experience. Each track progresses in a different fashion than its predecessor; no exact pattern is rehashed or recycled. The riffs are dark, twisted and contain just the right amount of technicality to keep the listener intrigued. Instead of resorting to simple monotone screams, vocalist Ryan Clark displays a powerful range of intelligible shrieks and growls that serve as the backbone holding the chaos in place. The ambient sections that break up the flow are murky and ominous, bridging the tracks together while maintaining a tense atmosphere until the next wave of pandemonium arrives. Though much of the subject matter is moralistic and full of “holier-than-thou” lyrics, the aggressive but intelligent messages perfectly complement the music’s unchained fury. Perhaps the album's greatest strength is that its sound is so honed and meticulously crafted compared to what the competition was releasing at the time, especially for a debut album.
It’s a crying shame that this album never got the attention it truly deserves, as there aren’t many groups who can reach such incredible heights so early in their careers. Unfortunately, Plastic Soul Impalement
was ahead of its time, doomed to fall through the cracks of the underground before the genre really found a voice. Fifteen years after its release, the scene is almost unrecognizable and full of stale, uninspired music (the likes of which Demon Hunter eventually contributed.) Training For Utopia and their phenomenal debut exist as little more than an afterthought, revered by no more than a small cult following longing for the past.