Review Summary: This or the Apocalypse compose a surprisingly good album that is worth listening to, even for metalcore skeptics.
Dear Metalcore community,
You have taken many punches from a multitude of sources on your current state. Bands like Converge and Shai Hulud helped pioneer the genre; then, artists like Poison the Well and Killswitch Engage helped bring metalcore into the forefront of the heavy music community. While both bands utilized occasional breakdowns, they were used to augment the mood of the music, rather than creating a song solely for the purpose of a "brutal breakdown". Most bands springing up in the late 2000s employed the breakdown-heavy formula, some with success; however, a majority found the music to be a stale substitute for what was originally such a quality genre. This begs the question: can a modern metalcore album employ quality songs instead of merely excuses for the breakdown"
Enter exhibit A: This or the Apocalypse's Haunt What's Left
. Sounding at times like a mix of August Burns Red and early KSE, with a helping of djent, the album should serve as an example for what metalcore can do, even when it wants to employ breakdowns and melody. Utilizing fantastic fretwork certainly helps. "Charmer" roars out of the gate with a catchy riff and a nice groove, only to stutter with one of the more boring breakdowns in the album. Listening to "Subverse", I dare you to not get the chorus stuck in your head. The beauty in this hook is in how it avoids the pitfall many modern metalcore singers fall into: it doesn't sound like a whiny, poppy chorus thrown in the middle of an otherwise heavy song. While shifting from heavy to light can be a good thing, listening to a hook that matches the tone of the rest of the song is certainly a welcome idea. The rest of the album follows suit, with solid leads aplenty. As far as the breakdowns go, the band utilize two key elements to spice them up from the standard "chug-chug". First, many include the aforementioned leads. Gasp! Who'd have thought to use anything but open-note chugs in a breakdown" Also, most utilize off-beat chugs on the bottom end, instead of steady-beat monotony. For a great example of a quality breakdown, look to "Toro".
While this album is a breath of clean air, it is not perfect. First, while "The Incoherent" is a song that will translate well to a live setting, its djent-heavy tone and amazingly average breakdown make it sound like a good Veil of Maya b-side. Also, the vocalist sounds like Chad Gray from Mudvayne at times, especially when he switches from screaming to singing. Avoid these two pitfalls in future albums.
In summary, please look to this album for the furtherance of your genre. Just as August Burns Red's Constellations
was a fantastic album that gave many hope that metalcore was not dead, another Lancaster, PA band has released a quality album to look for guidance. There is something in the water there. Because of this, some of Lancaster's finest municipal water is sent to you along with this letter.
A Concerned Fan