Review Summary: The album in which Dwid discovers the meaning of life.
Integrity are a band who define the word 'esoteric.' From the dark, macabre brilliance in the early nineties to the Earth Crisis and Misfits-posturing of the 2000s and the experimental maturation within the 2010s, the band has been through so many phases it's hard to count. So where does that leave Integrity in 2013?
Well according to mainman Dwid Hellion, a darker, rawer outfit that dwells in its own little Nietzechien world. With their latest album, it's hard to argue the point. Suicide Black Snake
is far more stripped down than its predecessor both in production and song length. This album shows a far more focused set of influences than The Blackest Curse's
metaophorical melting pot. Rob Orr's guitar work is a mutant hybrid of John Christ and Randy Uchida as well as the obvious blues influence in the ingenius use of a harmonica in 'There Ain't No Livin' In Life.' These influences slide effortlessly into the album's overall framework and really push the gothic horror atmosphere into far more mature, brooding territory. This is the album at its best.
Unfortunately on the flipside the same rigid adherance to the framework that Aaron Melnick created still seems to hold the band back at times. Some songs just feel as if Rob Orr is just trying to force his style of guitarwork into the structures from earlier albums. On occasion it can work, 'There Is A Sign,' for example sounds like a dead ringer for a track from Seasons In The Size of Days
however the merger just feels awkward in songs like 'Detonate VVorld Plagues' and 'Beasts As Gods.' Also there are many ideas that feel completely clumsy or unfinished: 'All Is None' feels like a senseless waste of riffs; 'Suicide Black Snake' builds up to a worthless climax; and Dwid's vocals on 'Into The Night' are shoddily lumped onto a set of Uchida-esque leads that go nowhere.
This leaves the album feeling rather half-baked. While there's no denying this album has it's high points those high points are only when a song feels well thought out and/or original and when nearly half the songs feel awkward or clumsy, it does leave this album quite lacking. Combine that with the fact two thirds of this album is re-recorded material that has been put out two or three times before, it does leave one feeling quite disappointed.
For all the complaints that can be levelled against this album though, it's bright spots do show a lot of promise, especially in growing away from the Melnickian template. It remains to be seen whether they can capitalise on this but if they can and if they can get the consistency of the songwriting down, then the next album should be something truly special.