The Brightest Days of Darkest Music
It is a great time for lovers of insanely heavy music… Mass proliferation of studio-grade recording gear, along with the rise of indie labels has created an unprecedented crop of bands who are absolutely amazing. I will never fail to pay homage to the founders of the feast who have been long acknowledged as the greatest metal bands of all time, (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, etc.), today’s artists owe everything to them. That said… There has NEVER been a better time to be a fan of heavy metal. We exist in a world of infinite possibilities, and the evolution of a musical genre can take many paths, for the purposes of this article, I will list the two I feel are most common.
The first, and most common, is the overpopulation and demise of the weaker class of genre after the initial spark that fueled it has faded, “Nu Metal” is a great example of this. This trend stretches beyond metal across sub-genre’s too numerous to list. The secondary outcomes are varied as well, revival for some, obscurity for others… Many an artist has perished jumping on the wrong bandwagon.
The second outcome for a genre, and in truth only reserved for the broader creation that possess some timeless qualities on an inherent level, is refinement. The music will begin to take on a higher level of complexity, on both a sonic and technical level, the individual players becoming more skillful as a whole. Even if the genre suffers from a temporary lull in popularity, it will be back in roaring vengeance in a few short years.
My point? Metal has permanently been enshrined in the halls of category two. To paraphrase an AC/DC quote, which referred to Metals older brother, Rock and Roll, “Metal ain’t gonna die.”
In the past, I had real trouble digesting an entire “Death Metal” album in a single sitting… Now for two reviews in a row, I am reviewing a DeathCore offering. I don’t know what my hang up was, I suppose I did not truly care for blast beats, abandoning a more intelligible cadence in favor of what sounded like a blended posing as a percussionist. And the vocals… Cookie monster? Between that, and the sloppy, as fast as I can play guitar, Death Metal often failed to hold my interest.
As with botanical evolution, crossing strains can create a stronger hybrid. Hardcore handed over it’s breakdowns, the extreme screams of Death Metal tempered with the more intelligible vocals of Thrash Metal. Shred Metal inspired an entire generation of kids who were bored out of their skulls by the Grunge inspired crop of bands which dominated the radio for years. The new wave of Black Metal brought percussionists who played like machine guns, yet with flawless accuracy. The stage was set for what has transpired, what may be the finest hour of Metal, a “Perfect Storm”, if you will.
“This is Where it Ends”… is an album that fulfills the promises Death Metal made, yet never kept.”
All Shall Perish’s – “This is where it ends” (Nuclear Blast, 2011), is an album that fulfills the promises Death Metal made, yet never kept. I absolutely love this album. The playing is stellar, combining what I consider to be the best attributes I have listed earlier in the article. I have never heard better guitar solo’s on a metal album, I mean it. I have been a longtime fan of old school Shred Metal, ala Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, Jason Becker, Marty Friedman, Cacophony, etc, this albums technicality is on par with what I consider to be the best Metal soloing ever recorded. Over a grinding breakdown, lead guitarist Francesco Artusato, plays a lick that is borderline impossible… and then doubles it. (See “A Pure Evil” 3:25-3:45) I really, really love having my ass kicked and my jaw dropped simultaneously.
To say the album is full or gorgeous melodies might raise more than a few eyebrows, but I assure you, it is. It’s all a matter of perspective. In background and foreground, woven between blasts of percussion, there is always some melody present… mind you, it is the guitars that handle said melody, I am fairly certain that the vocalist doesn’t hit a single “note” for the duration of the album, which suits me fine. (You can make out what he is saying quite easily, which is a happy departure from the older styles of Death Metal”) Some of the departures are typical of Death Metal (keyboard interludes, intro’s and outro’s), yet when taken in context with the universally more advanced musicality of the album, they are not out of place.
The 2:34 interlude at the beginning of the above song give the listener a moment to collect their bearings before ASP hits them with yet another salvo, that may possibly include the only Blast Beat riff I have ever truly loved. The scream riding over it has to have ripped vocalist Hernan “Eddie” Hermida’s throat right out. The overtone of the entire album (and band for that matter) is apocalyptic, in that respect the band doesn’t stray very far for typical lyrical fare, but truthfully… How possible might it be to sing about how “happy” you are over such a morbid, brutal backdrop? While I am always in favor of juxtaposition, this is not a circumstance in which I would care to see it.
I mean it. This is a great time to be a Metal Fan, there has never been more music out there for us… A fact that I know makes life more difficult for the musicians themselves, many bands that have trouble finding traction in the current climate would have been absolute superstars in a past era. Your Ipod will appreciate it. I once again admonish you to support as many artists as you like, see their shows, buy their merchandise, buy their albums. I am sure that this renaissance in Metal will not last forever, and we will be stuck in doldrums, where lame, questionable bands of some dominating sub-genre will be all we can find, but that time is not now. Know the moment we are in, and enjoy.