Review Summary: At least it's better than Winds of Plague.
Roadrunner Records is a name every metal fan both knows of and knows the history of. From their first years in the 80s releasing the classic early records of King Diamond and Annihilator, to their elevated position as the
metal label of the 90s, releasing legendary albums by bands such as Death, Suffocation, Fear Factory, Obituary, Pestilence, Type O Negative, and Sepultura, to their eventual downgrade in quality throughout the 2000s. While they still retained some great bands on their roster, including Opeth, Kvelertak, Gojira, and Dream Theater, the label started steadily signing groups that could not write a good song if it smacked them in the face. They also started signing a lot of non-metal groups, which I normally would not object to if the music were any good, but in many cases the music from these new bands quite simply stunk (see: Nickelback and Biffy Clyro). Then in 2012, the label was downsized considerably, with offices around the world being closed, culminating in the one-two punch of longtime A&R head Monte Conner leaving the label, eventually landing at Nuclear Blast Entertainment, and label founder Cees Wessels stepping down from his position as CEO. In the midst of all this insanity at the once infallible organization has been the often overlooked Australian outfit Make Them Suffer, who are not in fact named after the same named Cannibal Corpse song. Having adopted the symphonic deathcore style made famous by Winds of Plague, the band's first full length album was released by Roadrunner over a year ago, possibly lost in the shuffle due to the label's multitude of issues at the time. While the music contained within Neverbloom
is infinitely superior to the aforementioned Winds of Plague, it's still nothing to call home over, as the few good ideas the band presents are squashed by a sea of poor choices and mediocre songwriting.
There are two types of songs found on Neverbloom
: the almost 7 minute long "epic" consisting of symphonic black metal inspired blast beat sections, verses based around your standard melodeath riffing, and breakdowns as meatheaded and generic as you could shake an Emmure album at, and the shorter, composed entirely of breakdowns and tough guy nonsense mosh tunes. The major issue is that due to every song on this album being either one style or the other, they all sound exactly the same, save for the two keyboard-based interludes, which are actually fairly enjoyable to listen to on their own and are definitely the best tracks to be found here for that and the fact that they sound different from one another. While the musicians here are playing well enough, they're still playing incredibly banal, generic, boring deathcore that's just had pianos and assorted synths placed on top. Most of the album's 10 songs fall under the second type of song, the djenty breakdown-within-djenty breakdown snorefests that, while brief, drag on for what feels like an eternity. Doing a song that's composed entirely or almost entirely of breakdowns is not necessarily bad by default; Whitechapel proved with "I, Dementia" that this style of song can be done right. Make Them Suffer do not do that style justice, as each song just makes you want to look at the timer on the music player and wonder how a 4 minute song can feel like 9. The longer songs only fare slightly better, as they are slathered in black metal elements and riffing techniques that, if utilized much more effectively, could prove a veritable counterweight to the more insufferable deathcore aspects of the band's sound. They aren't however, as each of these longer tracks (all three of them) are so predictable and telegraphed that you could call out exactly what's gonna happen next about 2 minutes prior to it actually happening, even if the breakdowns are (usually) placed much more logically within the song than many other deathcore bands would care to attempt. It just goes to show that while you may have some good ideas in the fold, too many bad ideas can just crush it into dust and whisk it away by the wind.
When it comes to the keyboards, they aren't terrible, just mostly inessential. I've always liked keyboards in metal, to the point that I play in a band heavily featuring the use of keyboards and piano. In some cases, such as the title track and the ending to "Chronicles", it can enhance the mood greatly, making you forget that the riffing going on underneath isn't all that great. Most of the time though, it doesn't really add all that much to the songs. The actual keyboard sounds used are mostly just your average piano, although a couple songs outside of the interludes incorporate string synths. I've certainly heard much worse when it comes to keyboards in metal (looking at you, The Unspoken King
). The only real problem I have with the keyboards is involving the keyboardist herself. I'm certain that Louisa Burton is a nice girl and all, but in her one vocal appearance on the album during the title track, she shows to be one of the most hopelessly generic singers I've ever heard. It's as if the band just plucked some random girl out of a piano recital, asked her if she could sing on key, and then shoved a microphone in front of her face. That's not even mentioning that her one singing part on the album is almost completely unnecessary, as her lines could have been easily sung by the main vocals. Speaking of that, the lead vocals are also pretty damn "been there, heard that", with Sean Harmanis sounding like every other deathcore singer ever in history. He can growl and scream with enough conviction so as to not sound like he's just going through the motions, but his voice itself is just very "I've heard this in about 28 other bands in the past 6 months". His lyrics, while most of the time a lot better than what you'd expect from deathcore, still descend into your typical brodown stupidity from time to time. Note to deathcore lyricists: you do not need the word "***" to emphasize a line, and especially not when you use it 6 or 7 times throughout an entire song. It's childish and stupid. Please stop. The other members are serviceable in their skills, but aren't playing anything that at least a dozen other extreme metal players within a 10 mile radius couldn't do.
I could see numerous folks who follow deathcore much more closely than I both eating this album up while simultaneously complaining about how nobody seems to be talking about Make Them Suffer. Again, I attribute this to both the band and album being somewhat pushed to the wayside during the Great Roadrunner Records Gutting of 2012. At the same time though, is there anything on this album to really make you want other people to hear it? Not really, as outside of both diehard deathcore fans and people who think keyboards make everything better no matter what, I just don't see a whole lot of people getting too excited about Neverbloom
. The ideas are definitely there, but the execution takes those ideas and pushes them over the waterfall without a bucket to scrunch inside. As I mentioned earlier, Make Them Suffer performs the symphonic deathcore style so goddamn better than Winds of Plague that it's not even funny, yet the band falls victim to many of the same issues that that monstrosity disguised as a "metal" band suffers from. Generic songwriting, crappy breakdowns, occasional lapses into douchebag flat brimmed hat bulls
hittery in the lyrics, and mostly ineffective keyboards make for one chore of a listen from these Australians. Remember kids: wasting potential is just as bad, if not worse, than consistent sucking.