Review Summary: Sputnik hates them, High Schoolers love them. What's the deal with Chelsea Grin?
Here I am. This EP dropped 8 ***ing years ago. Yet here I am talking about this EP. This chug-fest 14 minute deathcore breakdown swamped debut from SLC based Chelsea Grin. Why" I think this album is somewhat misunderstood.
Now, I'm new to reviewing on Sputnik, but I've been around for a while. This has been my go to source for new music; sputnik metalheads may be pompous and pretentious as all hell, but they do have good taste. I discovered music I listen to on the daily from this website. But, you sputnik metalheads have a fierce disdain for the phenomenon of 'deathcore'. It is a polarizing genre; and you all hate it. That very well might be a good thing; I by no means am mature in my musical taste, and I'd be lying if I said there wasn't enjoyment to be found listening to this EP. I enjoy Cough, I enjoy Lost Society, I enjoy Kendrick Lamar, hell, I'm listening to Grand Magus right now. I enjoy A LOT of music. You'd be hard pressed to find a form of music I didn't appreciate at least a bit. And I think there is fun to be had with this EP. I may be predisposed, I was a deathcore kid, wearing a Born of Osiris T-shirt everywhere and jeans 3 sizes too tight. I still enjoy it to an extent though.
But this is a review of an EP; I should probably talk about the EP. I heard a simile that nails Chelsea Grin pretty well; 'The Taylor Swift of deathcore'. I'm not going to defend it; the lyrics are *** teenager breakup lyrical poo. If i recall correctly Oli Sykes was being interviewed about the immature lyrical content of their first record 'Count your Blessings'. All about high school heartbreak; super immature and overflowing with angst. Sykes commented that's all they knew, girls and sex and drugs. I think a lot of these 'core' genres suffer from this lyrical garbage, considering how young most of these musicians are, most just coming out of high school. Chelsea Grin is no different, and this EP sometimes feels like it has period blood smeared all over it. Most of the songs lyrics are just a stanza of angry violent mayhem about a girl blah blah blah you know the format.
" As you suffocate on your own blood.
With your last thoughts I hope you think of everything I've ever done for you,
And how you left me to lie in my buried agony."
Simply poetic. So we got the bad out of the way; the lyrics are ***ty. Almost laughable at times. Highly relatable though, I mean, who wants to fall victim to a hideous vagina trap"
But the lyrical content aside, this EP is just fun. It's not Origin, or Meshuggah, its not engaging or particularly interesting. Its just simple fun. There's just some sinister riffs throughout the album; honestly the whole EP blends into one down tuned riff; its monotonous, and repetitive, but its 15 minutes. It's a glass cannon, a short brutal burst of energy. Alex Koehler's vocals may be heavily modified digitally, but on the record they're brutal. Hearing those savage lows at the beginning of intro 'Crewcabanger' is satisfying, the vocals really aren't that bad, however fake. Now, the guitars are muddy at times. The occasional tremolo or sweep picking bits add to the sinister atmosphere to the record, but its mostly just drop A bar chords not breaking past the first 3 frets. The drums and bass are passable; what you'd expect from deathcore, just holding the beat, but all together, eh, it works. Somehow it flows; it comes together much better than bands like Traitors. The song structure isn't perfect, the production value isn't fantastic, but for a debut EP it holds up.
So Chelsea Grin's self titled EP may be immature, and childish more often than not, but it holds up nicely for a debut deathcore outing. It's no masterpiece of metal, its not even the best of deathcore. But its fun; its simple, its formulaic. Its not for everyone, but there is fun to be had.
***First review, hopefully of many. Open to criticism; don't just tell me it sucks I'm fully aware of that. Thanks, guys.