Review Summary: Finally, a Christian metal band that's good. Not only that, but it's straight death metal. Impending Doom has erased the generic deathcore image from thier description, and replaced it with "must-listen death metal".
The lastest wave of "Christian" metal bands over the past several years has sparked some of the most uninteresting, uninspiring, generic music known to us. Marketed purely as a new wave of "positive influence" in the genre, it has turned out to be a rather useless wave of either unknowns or overrated scene bands that all sound the exact same. Some of them produce decent music; none of them stand out. They are niether groundbreaking nor exciting beyond the first listen. I believe, however, there is an exception. That exception is Impending Doom.
Hailing from California, Impending Doom's debut, 2007's Nailed. Dead. Risen.
, makes it well known they are Christian. They bear no shame and they do not care about the label. However, while making it clear that thier faith is important to them, they do not let the music take a backseat to it, unlike most bands of thier type. This here marks a defining characteristic of the band. They make thier music, do it the best they can, and play it. It simply happens to be about thier faith. They aren't avidly marketed as a Christian band; it's not shoved in your face, and they make it known they are simply about playing heavy metal.
The delivery of the music is quite different from other Christian metal bands, which play typical metalcore or generic "deathcore". This album is purely death metal.The album greets you with a massive wall of pure death metal, speared by Brook Reeves's excellently delivered low vocals that show a remarkable intensity. Drummer Andy Hegg is also a major contributor to the overall intensity of the music. The guitars are a rather typical downtuned death metal formula; however, the riffs are well placed and do not fall short of what the vocals are attempting to deliver. Far too many bands are unable to musically match the intensity of the vocalist; this is quite the exception. Perhaps my favorite track, "Silence the Oppressors", is a perfect example of this.
The largest problem with bands like this is the overuse or misuse of breakdown. We see it time and again. It's like a spreading disease these days in the metal community. It seems to me that Impending Doom took note of this. Not only are many of thier breakdowns non conventional, but they are very well placed and thought out. Even on "Silence the Oppressors", which features the most typical and generic breakdown of the album, it's well done. The fact that I could see it coming from a mile away on the first listen and still was impressed says something. The band knows when to carefully articulate nonstop blasting with groove and semi-breakdowns, and I surely enjoyed listening to it.
The one thing I did notice about this band is thier striking resemblance to modern day Cannibal Corpse, but with far lower, more intense vocals and a much improved song structure that is both easy to follow and to get into. The intro to "At the Church's End" is a good example of the CC influence, and it's done tastefully. On a negative note, many of the songs begin or have parts with a rather repetitive blast beating pattern that can be a bit tiring (ex. "Nailed. Dead. Risen.", "For All Have Sinned", "Mark of the Faithful"); however, they seem to make up for it throughout the rest of the songs with variable parts once the listener has progressed past the intros. The only major complaint I have is the lack of solos, but upon careful listening to the album one would wonder of it would even fit thier style. Probably not.
Overall, this was quite a refreshing listen. No typical "full band yelling" parts, no ridiculous "5 breakdowns per song" style, no clean singing, no harsh half-yelling. This is not deathcore as we know it; it's not the typical hardcore-influenced death metal that we keep hearing from these bands. No. This is straight death metal. Quite the recommended listen.