Conducting From The Grave
Conducting From The Grave
01. Honor Guide Me!
03. The Rise
05. The Harvest
06. Into The Rabbit Hole
09. The Calm Before…
10. Monster (Part III)
Deathcore is a strange sub-genre. A lot like djent or metalcore, it had its day with several astronomically huge bands emerging on their way to world domination. Some of these bands survived, others fell, and a new crop of pretenders arrived to take their shot. This is just a long winded introduction to an album from a band who could simply be stuck in the deathcore aisle. Conducting From The Grave however, with this most recent delivery (their first self release since leaving Sumerian) are so much more than just that. This is a “core” album that grabs, shakes and violently beats around the head with a calculated and thoughtful brutality. So much so that someone, somewhere, is already thinking of a new moniker for this particular brand of death metal inspired mvsik.
Not one to lump a band into a genre even with their prevalence for breakdowns and guttural vocals, Conducting From The Grave have gone ahead and taken that opportunity out of the listeners’ hands. From the opening one two punch drum fill of ‘Honor Guide Me!’ to the dying seconds of ‘Monster (Part III),’ this Sacramento based group of young musicians showcase an incredibly mature grasp of songwriting as a band; Epic solo passages slip right into beatdowns that Jamey Jasta could only dream of fronting, huge choruses crash and bounce off of technical guitar work and the breakdowns… Oh, the breakdowns.
There are fewer and fewer bands that have kept the chugga-chugga breakdown relevant but in Conducting From The Grave, they are pulled out of the hat at what seems like the perfect moment every time. Nearing the end of ‘Lycan’, there is a moment’s pause between Mikey Powell’s screech coming to a halt and the rest of the band weighing in with an absolutely huge breakdown. It doesn’t simply plod along however; the guitar work of Jeff Morgan and John Abernathy syncopates and drags a killer song to a bitter end. The rhythm section comprising of drummer Greg Donnelly and bassist Jackson Jordan weigh in heavily in the breakdown sections of ‘Signs’ and ‘Tyrant’ in particular, snapping the necks of a thousand headbangers a second and keeping them coming back for more.
Without giving too much attention to the actual deathcore element heard on Conducting From The Grave (too late, I know) there are more than a fair share of moments of absolute technical brilliance on this album. The lead guitar work on ‘Harvest’ meanders and creeps over and around the riff behind it whereas on ‘Into the Rabbit Hole’ the leads stand out and really cut through the mix. The closing moments of this song also have a really nice touch, with a wah guitar buried very deep in the mix — which you really need your headphones in to hear — which creates a feeling of descent, swirling down a hole into a fantasy world perhaps. The album is littered with sweeping riffs and harmonized guitar licks, all kept brutal and relevant with clean passages and stop-start progressions which allow for huge tempo changes which swing the songs round on a sixpence (the midpoint of Rise breaks necks just for fun, “YOU ARE ALL FUCKING SLAVES”).
Mikey Powell shows a fairly dynamic range of metal vocals here; the school of Trevor Strnad screech and growl would be proud to call this guy an alumni. His delivery throughout the album is always on point and he definitely exercises the right to stay silent during moments which need not vocals. Lyrically the album is littered with tales of battle and apocalyptic worlds, standard fair for this type of music but once again it is in his delivery that Powell makes this work better than many of his peers. The lyrics of ‘Lycan’ stand out as a favourite — an almost Lovecraft-ian tale of transformation from man into beast. The clean sections on this record are done tastefully and, although initially unexpected and jarring, they do create something new within the songs. People that say that there is no room for clean singing in death metal just have not heard it done properly yet.
Conducting From The Grave crowdsourced this record via Kickstarter but it does not lose any quality for this. The guitars are nice and high in the mix without ever becoming muddied and the vocals never get lost or become too abrasive. My only disappointment with the production is that the cymbal hits are often lost behind the guitar, bass and vocals. There are no real filler songs on this record as each has its own moments of absolute savagery or surprising clarity. Some songs do take awhile to end and some are hands down a minute or two longer than need be, but overall this is a self released album from a band who look more than likely to continue producing great death metal/deathcore/metalcore. It doesn’t matter what you call it, music that is performed this well and written by a band who are obviously well aware of each others’ talents doesn’t need a genre, just loud speakers to be played from.
Conducting from the Grave – Conducting from the Grave gets…