Review Summary: Welcome to Whose Line Is It Anyway?, the show where everything's made up and the points don't matter. That's right, the points are like the lyrics to a deathcore album.
Slaughter to Prevail is a Russian deathcore band headed by Alex Shikolai (alias: Alex Terrible), who is perhaps better known for his Youtube vocal covers. The Chapters of Misery
EP was their first official group of songs, originally self-released in 2015, then re-released a year later after signing with Sumerian Records. The EP calls back to the more breakdown-intensive style of deathcore which was more common during the late 00's, with bands like Oceano, Whitechapel, and Carnifex (the earliest iterations of these bands, that is), but with the cleaner and bolder production that is heard in almost all of modern deathcore. The combination of these two aspects gives Chapters of Misery
a vibe that is simultaneously nostalgic and refreshing.
Anyone who has ever stumbled upon Alex Terrible's "metal" covers on Youtube should already be familiar with the vocal style displayed on this EP: false-chord (but probably open-chord on the super lows) screaming and gutturals that sound every bit as evil as his "kid of darkness" demon masks that he and his band likes to wear. On the instrumental side, most of the riffs contain chugging of some sort, but oftentimes the lead guitarist will break off and play some sixteenth-note licks to add some flavor and distinction to each track. The drummer strives to make the most of each and every riff – even the slowest of their breakdowns – usually with erratically dancing kickdrums and liberal snare hits. The bass is loud, pulsating, and in-your-face, with no equalizer enhancements required.
I want to make special note of the band's songwriting on Chapters of Misery
(unfortunately not on their Misery Sermon
LP, which was a huge step down from this), because I think Slaughter to Prevail did something that made this release distinctive from others in the genre, that being their unforgivingly copious use of tempo changes. Of course deathcore in and of itself is already known for its breakdowns, which involve bands scooting on down into half-time for palm-muted riffs, but Slaughter to Prevail likes to play buildups that imply a certain tempo is coming, and then hit you with a crushingly slow breakdown, or perhaps a quicker and bouncier breakdown, or perhaps it wasn't a breakdown at all, and they just wanted to fake you out and go into another fast riff. This is done constantly, and the listener (unless they've heard the EP several times, then even still) never really knows how fast or slow the next riff is going to be, creating an unpredictable but fun vortex of heavy riffs that lasts for almost a half hour.
Speaking of fun, that's something that deathcore has almost completely lost sight of in the 2010's, with bands such as Enterprise Earth and Aversions Crown favoring "mature" songwriting and "appropriately-timed" breakdowns. Chapters of Misery
calls back to the earlier days of deathcore, when the bands didn't take themselves as seriously, and wanted the listeners, especially those in a live environment, to have fun at all times and to tear *** up (literally, figuratively). Whenever I think those days are all but gone, I discover an EP like Chapters of Misery
, and feel glad that some musicians in the genre still know that it doesn't have to be entirely about business all the time (or at all).