01. Manic Dependence
03. In To the Abyss
04. Dead World
07. The Shift of the Ages
09. The Lord of the Flies
10. A New Chapter
[Independent | 11/12/10]
Virginia-based quintet This Time It’s War play metalcore. Short and to the point I know, but never has such a description felt so apt. Though I’d never heard any of their music prior to listening to the album, I feel that in this particular case it’s not all that much of a constraint, and after giving the record a good 4 or 5 listens, I was struck by one impression most of all. Though metalcore is not a genre famed for variety in its less than avante garde practitioners, there was something striking about just how much of Terror Plots I felt I’d heard before. I feel if I’d been sat down and told to listen blind, I would have been shouting out names of bands, vehemently accusing anyone else in the vicinity of lying when they denied the truth in my claims. What makes what TTIW have achieved so baffling is how many different bands such an interrogation would inspire me to put forward.
I’m sure this all sounds a little aimless, so I will press on and will try to explain where I’m coming from here, taking the opener and highlight of the album for me, “Manic Dependence”, as some-what of a case study. We open with a shred-laden intro solo and a few riffs that just scream Unearth, then around the 2 minute mark, in come the clean vocals and my mind immediately flicks over to the most recent Kingdoms record. Taking a moment out for some boring pragmatism here, this is a fine example of a growing habit for –core bands to throw clean vocals into songs where they add nothing and then not take the effort to find someone capable of doing them justice in the first place.
It really is all here: breakdowns (albeit mercifully few of the most boorish variety), guttural vocals in a variety of pitches/styles (brushing up close to bree on occasion), even some of the little spoken-word lines mid-verse that are so reminiscent of early Parkway Drive and Misery Signals. They even throw in a few curveballs; the latter half of “Lord of the Flies” sounding strikingly like Gojira, and “Blacklight” having the feel of Torche-style sludge–minus the fuzz-pedal or associated atmosphere.
Pre-empting the entirely legitimate point that it’s unfair to judge a record by the output of other musicians, I would like to simply say that I could think of little else to judge them on. This is a modern metalcore record, the musicianship is precise and calculated, the bass thumping and production clean, but I don’t think that really counts for much in a scene where it’s almost ubiquitous. My personal feeling that the level of the drums may be slightly excessive is again one I feel with countless recent metalcore releases.
If this all sounds horribly critical you may be a little shocked by my, relatively, generous rating but I feel it is almost exactly the point. 2.5 out of 5 is average and I can think of no better way to describe Terror Plots. To put a lighter view on this, these guys clearly know what they’re doing and are certainly more interesting than many of their contemporaries, I’m just not sure they have found a sound to call their own. Having a massive variety of styles and feels on an album only works if it comes across as intentional and I feel here it falls closer to schizophrenia.
This Time It’s War’s Terror Plots gets