Review Summary: Great, melodeath inspired metalcore from a better time.
We bury our Dead at Dawn is a bad way to start the album, putting the bands best track straight at the front of the album. Then again, this song showcases everything The Agony Scene have in their repertoire on this album. Starts with a choppy riff that haunts the rest of the song. Immediately noticeable are the agonized shrieks of Mike Williams, a feature which sets this album apart from the millions of bands that now populate the metalcore territories. The man literally sounds as if he's being tortured throughout most of the album. The breakdowns are natural sounding, unlike the majority of the genre, and nothing feels forced.
However, after the opening pummel, the next two songs decide to take exactly the same approach. While enjoyable to listen to, they're more or less forgettable when you look back at the album. But things pick up again on The Lines of Suicide. Opening the song with just one note repeated ad nauseum sounds like a bad idea the first several times you listen to it but it eventually clicked with me and now is the catchiest opener on the album. The song is a essentially a great practice in groove heavy metal with interesting sung acoustic interludes. The breakdown about 2 minutes in is one of the album highlights and is a great way to end the song.
Eyes Sewn Shut is the last of the throwaway songs, so we enter the last half of the album with a fairly solid lineup. Nausea is a slow plodding, mostly acoustic piece big on atmosphere but seems to drag on just a little too long for its own good. The explosion through the second half is powerful and raw, a decent payoff for a two minute wait through tedium.
The next two tracks are almost the best on the album. Shotgun Wedding starts off with a bang after the ambient wind closing of Nausea. Anyone not bobbing their heads to the groove that fills the song might be going a little deaf. Even my non-metal-listening friends had a hard time denying the catchiness of the main riff. If there is a downside here, it's that the song is only 2:47 long and could stand to last a little longer. Vivid by contrast is one of the more metal driven songs on the album. Starting with a subdued, discordant riff, it explodes about 25 seconds in into the least predictable song on the album. William's voice hits all through his range from death grunts to agonized shriek, and Master's drumming is at his best here. The highlight moment of the entire album is 1:48 in when the drums die and the feedback fades away and from nowhere Williams shrieks into one of the angriest breakdowns I've heard.
The album fades away with a whimper though, first with a cover of the Stones' Paint it Black. It sounds like Paint it Black poured through The Agony Scene, and by this point on the album you'll be able to guess exactly what it sounds like. The closing track is more of the same, not as forgettable as earlier tracks but nothing special. The highlight is the acoustic segment near the end is what sets it apart right before another melodeath line and a minute of static fadeout.
All in all I'd say that this is a great metalcore album, almost one of the best. It came out in a time when the core influence wasn't spit at and didn't drag a band's name into the dirt. It's raw and vicious. It's crazy and angry and ugly. This is a great band before the watered down sound of The Darkest Red and before the punk influence of Get Damned.