Review Summary: A really heavy yet 'catchy' album. This album should appeal to those who like their metal as brutal as possible while still retaining good doses of groove and melody.
Most of the reviews I've read online tend to focus on the lack of variation in the songs and especially in the vocals of Carson Slovak. This has lead many to come to the conclusion that this album is just "noise". A characteristic that many metalcore bands share, no question. However, to brand this album as simply metalcore does them a disservice as it does have some death metal influences.
The concept of an album being just "noise" is an interesting one because it is one I face very often when exploring new bands. Often, an album that appears just noise on first listen actually becomes a better album in the long run than one which hit you straight away. It's a sign of a more challenging listen and ultimately a more rewarding one.
On the face of it, 10 tracks lasting just over 30 minutes seems a bit on the short side. However, as is often the case with these albums, keeping them short and sweet is the best option. It is therefore not surprising that the sound is brutal. The vocals are nothing special but they complement the music perfectly. The drumming is relentless and the amount of riffs that are packed into each of the songs is just incredible. The excellent production just goes to augment the impact of each of the songs.
The most surprising element, though, is how "catchy" and accessible these songs really are. Most of the songs have instantly memorable choruses and even the verses - backed up by melodic riffs - provide variation. There are many albums that - due to confusing song structure or sheer despise of any sort of groove or melody - sound the same. However, this album is just fantastic in blending the brutality with the melodic touch that ultimately makes up the songs.
I know when I read a review I always look out for the comments on individual songs so here's just a track-by-track summary:
1. Pantheon 8/10
This is a great start to the album. It has a very good main riff and the chorus kicks in early on in the song. It's then repeated so many times throughout the song that by the end of its 3 minutes running time it will be drilled into your head. Definitely one of the heaviest on the album with some crushing breakdowns.
2. Black Ocean 9.5/10
This song is just incredible. The melodic guitar tune which rings out of the chorus is just insane. A perfect example of a song that is simultaneously brutal and catchy. The drumming on this track is particularly impressive.
3. Erasure 9/10
This is very similar to the title track in terms of its structure. It has some great breakdowns which lead up to the sub-chorus. This slows the tempo of the song down, before exploding again during the chorus. Once again, the guitar melodies ring out over the chorus as its repeated over and over again, making this a fantastic song.
4. Drug Mule 8/10
This is back to the sheer brutality of the opening track. It has a great groove during the verses, backed up by a solid riff and then explodes into a frantic flurry of riffs during the chorus before another breakdown kicks in, giving the song a breather.
5. Equus 8.5/10
This is probably one of the most "complete" songs on the album. It has a fantastic main riff which makes the song extremely groovy and catchy. The verses, especially, provide a surprising amount of melody, making this song instanstly recognisable. The song should've finished after 2 minutes 30 though. The ringing of chords that follows, before erupting into a cliched scream fest is unnecessary and feels like a completely new song.
6. Rising Sun 9/10
This song has slowly grown on me, becoming one of my favourites. Although it doesn't have the catchy chorus that the title track or "Erasure" possess, the song as a whole feels more cohesive as each part logically follows on from the other. The main riff which gives the verses the groove is hands down the best on the album. It has an amazing solo too.
7. Monolith 7/10
This is definitely different to the other tracks. The verses are pretty standard with the riffs not as incisive as on previous tracks. However, the melodic atmospherics during the chorus save the song. The problem though is that it's less brutal than the other tracks and barring the chorus which is good, has very little groove elsewhere on the track.
8. Daylight Algorithm 5.5/10
At 5 minutes long, this is also different to the other tracks on the album, especially in terms of its structure. It starts off calmly but instead of having a great riff kick in, followed by groovy verses and a repeated chorus, it just has a reasonably decent riff which accompanies the track to the end. It doesn't really change tempo or its half-decent groove throughout making it incredibly boring. It simply lacks the intensity, brutality and catchiness of the other tracks
9. Dysgenics N/A
aaaahhh. This song is just torture. 1 minute of screeching sounds. Enough said!
10. Terror Starts at Home 6/10
This is a really heavy track but it just lacks the melody and groove of the previous tracks. Its lack of structure also makes it really difficult to listen to, with no obvious discernible chorus.
"Terror Starts at Home" and "Daylight Algorithm" abandon the song structure of the previous songs, making them seem confused and disjointed. You can listen to them 10 times and you'll still struggle to drill them into your head. These songs aside, though, the album is fantastic.
If you're like me who wants his music to be as heavy as possible while still retaining groove and melody then you simply can't go wrong with this one. Without doubt, one of my favourite releases of the year.