Review Summary: Even with the talent of Jason Richardson, Chelsea Grin falls into a category of boring mediocrity already overpopulating the Deathcore genre.
Chelsea Grin is a band that's been around for about 5 years now, and have always been a relatively lackluster band of the already overdone Deathcore genre. After releasing their first self titled EP, the band gained fame through Myspace. After signing with The Artery Foundation, Chelsea Grin recorded their first full length album. Released to mild popularity and lukewarm reception, the album failed to progress the band past the usual Deathcore formula of chugging riffs, awful lyrics, and all around boring music. After a short break to tour, the band recorded their follow up, My Damnation. This album pushed the band into mild obscurity, after failing to make a splash in the music community, and predictably being another average album. This is where things get interesting, as former Born Of Osiris guitarist Jason Richardson joined the band as they recorded an EP, Evolve. Would Richardson's guitar capabilities finally drag Chelsea Grin out of the monotonous hole they've been stuck in since their inception? The answer is unfortunately, not really.
The EP kicks off with The Second Coming. After a build up that admittedly got me excited for the track, I was disappointed in what I heard. Any improvements that Richardson's guitar work brought are drowned out by bad production. I feel like all I hear are the vocals and synth. Let's take a second to talk about the vocals. Alex Koehler has never been a very good vocalist. Plain and simple. And although he improves a bit on this EP, his vocals are still annoying to listen to most of the time. The lyrics are bad, as per usual with Chelsea Grin releases. Songs about murder and torture (Usually directed toward a woman who Alex isn't fond of) are the norm on this EP, as they have been with most of this bands releases. The song is a chug fest despite Richardson's guitar work. The next song, and first released is Lillith. Easily the best song on the EP, despite chugging galore. The difference is in this song, the chugging is well placed and not too repetitive. The addition of clean vocals in the chorus doesn't really give anything or take away from the song, it just leaves room for more melody and a chance for the guitar work to shine for once. Next we have S.H.O.T. And guess what the song is like? You guessed it, more pointless chugging. It almost sounds like they were going for a Djent-y sound, but it falls flat on it's face. The production on the vocals in this song is especially annoying, as the screams are layered beyond recognition. The final song on the EP is Don't Ask, Don't Tell. While this song isn't really bad by any means, it isn't very good either. Alex's clean vocals could use some work, but show promise in the beginning of this song. And the choice to inject more melody into this song in the form of clean vocals in the background and a good synth track helps improve the song ten-fold.
Many wondered what steps forward Chelsea Grin would take with a new guitarist and with this EP. Baby steps, as they say. Though better than past outings, the production, vocals, and general old habits drag down this release quit a bit. The guitar is given no room to shine and when it is, it's mostly just chugging. I can't recommend this EP to just about anyone. It's just a tiny splash in an already overpopulated pool of Deathcore music, not separating itself whatsoever from other bands.