Last Ten Seconds of Life – Soulless Hymns
Deathcore is a genre usually known for its technicality, breakdowns, and blast beats- although there are standout vocalists (Phil Bozeman of Whitechapel comes to mind), the number of deathcore bands that usually revolve around the vocalist is small. And in comes The Last Ten Seconds of Life, with Soulless Hymns, bringing a smattering of slow riffing alongside numerous breakdowns to the table with their vocally-led assault.
This album is a typical deathcore release in most aspects — the breakdowns are solid (and really, isn’t that the important part?), the riffing is a cut above the norm, and the vocals are fun and varied enough that nothing about this album gets old. It’s a good album worth adding to any deathcore playlist, and standout tracks like ‘North of Corpus’ definitely get the blood flowing and the fists swinging.
The problem with Soulless Hymns can be summed up in its title- these songs have no soul to them. Although the vocals can occasionally convey some of the ire presented in the lyrics, and the breakdowns are worthy of some hatemosh, everything about this release feels like an exercise in deathcore songwriting, rather than anything written to actually convey emotion. The key component of humanity is lost somewhere along the way. Not all at once: a little bit in the lifeless mix of the album, some here or there when a riff or breakdown goes on a bit too long, and a lot in the usually bored-sounding vocals.
Overall, Soulless Hymns loses its way in small amounts as the album goes on, resulting in an experience that is less than satisfying when experienced full-on, however, when listened to shuffled in with other bands, the sound of this album is a fantastic break from more complex, guitar-led bands. The Last Ten Seconds of Life may not have knocked it out of the park with this release, but Soulless Hymns can provide some good times if not experienced in large doses
Last Ten Seconds of Life’s Soulless Hymns gets…
Deivos – Theodicy
[Self Made God Records]
Decapitated have a lot to answer for. Ever since the Polish titans came kicking and screaming into the limelight there has been an increased emphasis on technicality in death metal. Deivos, also hailing from Poland, are as technically minded as they are focused on creating razor sharp death metal. The band have been putting out records for more than a decade now and Theodicy, their latest, is a continuation of the sound that Decapitated helped pioneer. Putting a modern and sometimes industrial twist on this has birthed a satisfying, albeit tiresome death metal full length.
Theodicy is produced, mixed and mastered to a fine standard. Percussion as punchy as a bar room brawl and guitar tones that are just dirty enough to merit a post work out wash give this record the grit that it requires. ‘El Shaddai’ blasts distinctly through riff after riff with no quarter given while ‘Ochlocracy’ breaks up frantic riffing with frenetic leads that swoop and dive. Also, surprisingly, the bass is audible enough to be memorable in the spotlight it receives in ‘Mandatory Mayhem’ and ‘Parasite’. Adulation also, for the uncommon but totally welcome use of the lesser used percussive tools that pop up throughout Theodicy. Cowbell and woodblock blast beats are sure to be a staple in death metal following this.
It is not all cake and ice cream though. At forty minutes, Deivos are guilty of stretching out their material. For every notable riff there are four more that are thrown into a song just to build a passage into yet another zany guitar solo. Between each and every track there are industrial churns and gurns that, presumably, are meant to give the album the impression of one long, flowing track. Totally unnecessary and equally as predictable as the structure of some of the songs, this takes away from what is at heart a solid death metal album. These guys have been around the block and clearly have their voice dialled in as well as their guitar tones but some more work giving each track its own identity would make Theodicy a must-have as opposed to a should-have.
Deivos’ Theodicy gets…
Hawk Eyes – Everything Is Fine
Being around to witness genres being born is a rare treat. Luckily for us, the past decade has been very prolific in that regard, spawning many new sounds and styles after the relative stagnation of the early 00’s. One of those genres is post-progressive, incorporating its namesake’s penchant for experimentation while harking back to different aural ancestry: some sad, some aggressive, all blending a more straight-forward approach. Key names include The Pineapple Thief, Steven Wilson and now Hawk Eyes. Despite already having several albums under their belt, their latest, Everything Is Fine, is where the band really finds their footing within this genre.
The album mixes catchy math-rock and even hardcore riffs with vocals which vary just as much: they can be somber on quieter tracks, soothing when serenading and buzzsaw haggard when screaming aggression. The album utilizes these different sounds exceptionally well, never once feeling forced or stopping to gather its different parts. The band certainly knew what they were going for and were able to achieve it in a singular, conceptual go.
This is best exemplified by the closing of the album, as the four last track blend together. The unit which consists of ‘I Never Lose’ and ‘Everything is Fine’ is the highlight of this album, turning to the more angry side we mentioned. ‘Enemies’ then releases the clutch a bit but not all together, hinting perhaps at earlier works by The Pineapple Thief with its continued fierceness. Finally, closing track ‘TFF” is by far the longest but loses none of the verve and power this album has. It won’t shake your foundations but it’s a great example of what the genre accomplishes: complexity and interest without over-elaboration and staleness.
Hawk Eyes’s Everything Is Fine gets…