Review Summary: Clocking in at just over 30 minutes, Italian deathcore group delivers a chug-gurgle-breakdown fest that seems to last forever.
I'm guessing many of you haven't heard of The Juliet Massacre. To fill you in, this 6-piece deathcore group is from Vasto, Italy. They proclaim to draw influence from the American deathcore scene and the British metal scene (according to their Facebook page), as well as influence from slam death bands. On paper, myself trying to keep an open mind, "hey, this might be good, or at least a sort of guilty pleasure!" I can appreciate some good deathcore, with bands such as Whitechapel, Upon a Burning Body, and Fit For An Autopsy tickling my fancy. Unfortunately, The Juliet Massacre's debut "long play" record, despite a few short-lived ups, is a gigantic flop, falling into the pit of mediocrity, lost focus, and little to no technical skill.
The disc opens up with the intro "The Beginning Of The Unholy Years", which fails by even the lowest standards, simply because it has very awkward structure, and is probably disappointing even for the bros: the intro snare hits are kind of cool (taking up 30 seconds), but then a breakdown hits, which only lasts for like 15 seconds, concluded by an awkward roar, which quickly fades out. This gets the disc off on a poor start, but the next song "Pray For An Afterlife" thankfully picks it up at least a little bit, and turns out to be the strongest song here, with decent sense of direction and decent vocals. Yes, there are blastbeats, breakdowns, and tremolos, like pretty much every deathcore album out there. But there's a certain charm about some of it that keeps my attention; also, the breakdown at the 1:10 mark exhibits an intense sense of aggression, as the intense guttural roars match the rhythm of the breakdown.
Unfortunately, this is pretty much the only highlight of the disc. The rest of the track is monotonous chugging and gurgled vocals, which bleeds into "Consumed By Nothingness" which has the same characteristics, which bleeds into "Lifeless Face" which has the same damn characteristics (but the ending actually isn't too bad). The following track, "Guttural Funeral Dance", is a standout simply because it is the most worthless "interlude" thing ever. Clocking in at 1:27, it showcases Oceano-esque slow chugs, pig squeals, and gutturals that sound like vomiting, and--what is that? The sound of water dripping?!
The next three tracks exhibit the same problems (although the intro to "The Cursed Blessing" does portray some energy, but for only thirty seconds). But thus presents TJM's problem: lack of dynamic and wrong focus. These Italian bros are out to make some br00tal tracks, but they sacrifice cohesion and dynamic in the process. Sure, the tracks are heavy, the vocals are heavy, the breakdowns are heavy, etc. but the brutality is lost because of the lack of dynamic. "Pray For An Afterlife" is okay because it's the first real track, and it shows what the band is capable at a glance. But unfortunately, as evident in the rest of the album, that is all they are capable of: playing brutal breakdowns.
The members individually of this group are strangely a mixed bag. The vocalists, Antonio ("Antomega") and Alessandro ("Alex Gore"), are actually not too bad. The lows of Antonio have the probable potential to combat King Conquer's James Mislow's ghastly roars if utilized correctly. The highs of Alessandro are initially forceful, but become a sort of tired screech after a while. The guitars, played by Sabatino ("Sab") and Claudio ("Killer") are very straightforward, mostly tremolos of one note or breakdowns, with the occasional melodic riff over top (more on this later). The bassist, Luchino ("Jubbino"), is actually surprisingly good for a deathcore band, as it is possible to hear him noodling about. Unfortunately, he's drowned out 90% of the time in the mix. The drummer, Andrea ("Pelle"--what is with the nicknames?), is mediocre at best, using blazing double bass that has the same rhythm and fills that sound the same.
There is also the issue of originality. Every now and then, the guitar will noodle this down-tuned riff over top of the breakdown or whatever, but it sounds too similar to something Resist the Thought or Thy Art Is Murder would come up with. The Juliet Massacre has two vocalists, one taking the higher screeches, the other taking the low growls and gutturals. While not the most unoriginal thing ever, it has been done better in other groups such as Earth From Above or Vildhjarta. The blaring blastbeats, which seem so overdone by the end of the album, seem weak and uninspired in comparison to bands such as Impending Doom or even A Breath Before Surfacing. The bottom line is, TJM does everything that other bands do better. Also, the "slam death" influence is only found in the vocals essentially, which, put in a better musical setting, would be pretty good albeit unoriginal.
Another negative worth mentioning is the final "tracks", which are bonuses taken from The Juliet Massacre's 2008 demo. Because they are demos, they have a ridiculously annoying blaring production quality. Other than the major shift in sound, it also begs the question: was The Juliet Massacre so desperate for a full-length that they just took inconsistent older songs to finish off the list?
Overall, The Juliet Massacre's first "full-length" album is pretty much a complete flop. I won't even mention the lyrics, as the song titles speak the themes for themselves: anti-religion and gore. So, we're left with a sub-par unoriginal "brutal" deathcore album, with a total of almost one minute and 10 seconds of highlight in a 32 minute album. If you're looking for mindless brutal chugs and gurgled vocals, look no further, but I doubt anyone can listen for a whole half hour of this audio garbage.