Review Summary: 100% Integrity.
This is an Integrity album. An obvious statement but one that sums up To Die For
quite neatly. It is a loud and vitriolic attack against a world that, to Dwid, should care about the issues that he raises but instead continues in seemingly ignorant bliss to its apocalypse. Not that anyone will be able to understand the issues he explores with his screams and bellows, as after all this an Integrity album. All the same though, this work is one that, while drenched in the same lyrical ridiculousness, is a cut above the rest.
In its consistency, this album juxtaposes quiet, instrumental or acoustic sections with the furious yet jaded attack of the metalcore Integrity is so well known for. However these sombre moments were experimental afterthoughts, moments of introspective fancy that were produced from one of Dwid's endless meanderings. Granted, the results of these wanderings produced some of Integrity's finest work but they never felt a cohesive part of the album itself. However in To Die For
they are incorporated fully into the album structure. The flow from acoustic to metal is not perfect; slight pauses separate them from flowing into each other with complete cohesion, but these instrumentals are especially effective in continuing the flow of rage from one song to the next and with the contrast of soft to hard, the impact of the more wrathful offerings become much more powerful. The music and listener alike are allowed to breath within these moments so the more aggressive songs are allowed to explode within the open spaces created by the instrumentals and in turn the impact upon the listener is much more potent. It highlights how far Integrity have come with their music. They are shaking off the shackles of the post-Melnick years and walking ahead with a new maturity about themselves.
This new maturity has opened new doors for Integrity's work. To Die For
is abound with an originality that has not been seen since Seasons In The Size of Days
. This is not the youthful vigour of For Those Who Fear Tomorrow
but one that is more tentative and subtle. The experimentation that was limited to the instrumentals has crossed over into all the songs. Acoustic guitar work is interlaced with dense electric guitar work in "Hated of the World," reverb filled bass-lines dominate down-tuned guitars in a reverse of tradition in "Dreams Bleed On" and guitar solos become more prominent with double soloing upon "Heavens Final War." These experiments with old conventions of their sound may seem like old hat to other bands but here they add layers and, more importantly, an emotional impact that was thought long forgotten. The listener feels the contempt that Integrity have always tried to express through the heavier songs but somehow lost after their debut. Similarly Integrity have pruned elements of their sound that have hampered them in the past. The slower, denser sections that characterised their earlier work have been cut back and amalgamated into the fast-paced aggression that characterises this album. They regain that brooding darkness before their use meant nothing but excessive chugging. Within this album, Integrity capture a magic that was long thought dead yet with it they are still hampered by some of the same flaws.
One of the most glaring flaws are the lyrical themes. The band still dwells upon the same downtrodden vision of the world, one which in the end comes from humanity's own sin. The extreme evangelism ranting worked upon the first album because of the seriousness of the music but as the albums have progressed, the lyrical themes have become tired and worn. They have fallen victim to metal and hardcore clichés of cloven-hoofed demons and apocalyptic visions. These clichés have worn down the lyrics until they are nothing more than comedic at best and that is if they can even be understood. Dwid Hellion's voice is very effective and unique in its style. It is a monstrous shout torn straight from the pages of the Old Testament however Dwid has always suffered from one problem; annunciation. Although it is not as bad as many of his contemporaries, at certain times it is still hard to understand. This can be seen as a positive as the listener does not have to tolerate the abominable lyrics while still feeling the hatred in which Dwid spews them yet the album can't be experienced as a whole without the lyrics being understandable. A minus point they may be but without them this album is never a complete package.
As a full package this album is rather short, clocking in at just under twenty three minutes. It's compact nature allows for the album to have a very immediate impact and the run time allows for the emotional current to never waver. It is because of this and the maturity to which Integrity have approached this album that makes this a complete work for the band. Yet one can't help but feel that more could have been added to this album. The doom-laden intro of "Dreams Bleed On" could have been extended for a grittier impact or the acoustic guitar work could have been been twisted into the electric guitar work to a greater extent. The choice of instruments for both the instrumentals and the main cuts could have been expanded as well, the addition of a piano within Seasons In The Size of Days
created one of Integrity's most sombre moments. Most of all though, there is a certain need for an intro and outro to this album, ones that would add finishing touches to the album's sound.
Overall though, this a return to form for Integrity after the two previous, unfocused efforts. It is not nuanced and intricate, neither it is deep in its lyrics however it is an Integrity album. It suffers from some of the flaws that always plague every work of Integrity but mostly it is a mature, headlong charge into Hell, one that finds its depth in the primal emotions of the world. It may not be the most complete work in the metalcore genre but it is Integrity's most complete album and that is good enough.