Review Summary: ambient deathcore
A Black Rose Burial were an ambient deathcore band from San Jose, California. Despite that they had been together for eleven years (2001-2012), the band only came out with one release: the EP An Awakening of Revenants
, in 2005. The EP, which runs for twenty-one minutes on the nose, contains seven tracks; three of which are ambient, and four of which are ABRB's distinct style of sometimes technical, sometimes experimental, but all-the-time chaotic deathcore. Although these two genres may seem like an unlikely duo on the surface, ABRB managed to combine them into a rather fluid-sounding progression of music, which to this day I hold to be one of the most unique releases in deathcore.
The EP begins with Cobra Kai Versus Kobi Tai
, a dreary, minute-and-a-half long ambient track that is bolstered by a dungeon synth-esque keyboard melody, and the first of quite a few sound clips (As a side note, all three of the ambient tracks have "Versus" in the title). Although most of the sound clips are short, this first one, which is a monologue by sheriff John Quincy Wydell from the Rob Zombie movie The Devil's Rejects
, spans for nearly the entire track, and sets the dark tone for the rest of the EP. The following track, Straight From the Mind of a Modern Day Vigilante
, comes rushing out of the gate with as spastic of a chug-heavy riff as could be conceived, along with Joel's loud screams, which even during this riff alone showcase his impressive range. It is during the beginning of this track too when the unintentionally (I assume) muddy production of the instruments can first be perceived; and while it may be off-putting to some, I think it enhances the overall eeriness of the music.
The riffs on the four deathcore tracks vary between standard death metal ruminations accompanied with blastbeats; chaotic, early-metalcore style passages; and breakdowns of different shapes and sizes. Occasionally, horror movie sound clips or short, jazzy interludes are used as transitions between riffs. There are also brief singing parts on three of the songs, but the singing is mediocre. The third track, A Baleful Aura in the Graveyard of Broken Gears
, contains its own ambient intro, and is unfortunately the only track on the album where ABRB attempts to combine ambience with their heavier sound. The other two "Versus" tracks – of which all three technically pose as the intro, interlude, and outro – are fairly straightforward keyboard musings, with the latter drawing a melodic guitar accompaniment to bring the otherwise sullen EP to pleasant close.
It is unfortunate that ABRB never committed to releasing a follow-up to An Awakening of Revenants
, as I believe the natural progression that would've taken place with this band would be for them to start fusing the ambient and deathcore elements together in their songs instead of keeping them separated, which could have been very influential on the genre had it been done well. But for what it's worth, the separation of these elements on this EP are effective in helping the listener not to feel overly bombarded by the heavier parts. It has been proven during the rise and stagnation of deathcore that has occurred since the release of this EP that the genre usually doesn't play well with others (if at all), but An Awakening of Revenants
is one of the few, true examples where it works effectively.