I’m back at it today with “brutal metal” deathcore!
Now that I’ve revealed the genre, some of you might be thinking that you know exactly what this album sounds like: “‘Funeral for the Masses?’ Pitch Black? I’m not gonna be hearing anything super avant-garde, right? Or super crazy rhythms, or anything super out of the ordinary…
I suppose, in short, yes. You’d be right, I guess. (Gotcha!)
1. The vocals sound like an aural doppelganger for Whitechapel. And yes, they could also be a great substitute for the olden days of Suicide Silence. So basically, the vocals of the album are powerful and practiced, but not exactly original.
2. The breakdowns are nothing out of the ordinary—we have your standard metal djent. Nothing more, nothing less.
3. The songs can seem to blend at times because of how similar they are to each other. Nothing surprising, nothing atypical, nothing earth-shattering.
… And yet, despite all these run-of-the-mill symptoms of average deathcore, I’ve actually taken a surprising liking to the album for a few reasons.
My captivation starts with a few slightly unexpected sounds that “highlight” parts of each piece. Consider “Delusions,” in which we can hear some rather interesting dynamics heading the piece—sinister, sacrificial tones that can only spell out “ominous.” They ring with a rather interesting aquatic, submerged tone, and I can only imagine that the decision to play notes in such a dissonant interval—2nds—was a thoughtful addition to the piece that translates well to the mood. Interestingly enough, these tones become less noticeable with each play of the song. The effect is to the point that you quickly realize the undertones can stand alone, apart from the piece, or blend quite well with the overall forbidding aura. Essentially, Funeral For the Masses allots your subjective aural choice.
I found some other highlights in terms of sound, namely the snare. Throughout each piece on the album, the tightened snare adds a noticeable pop to the rhythmical background. It’s taut, light, and bouncy! With that extra bounce, we can hear the rhythm more clearly as an integral part of deathcore.
(Note to y’all: I’ve gotta say, that snare ‘pop’ is my favorite part of the overall album. Maybe adjusting the rhythmical tone is all it takes sometimes, eh?)
There are, however, a few qualms I have about the album as a whole. I find myself a bit indecisive when it comes to some qualities of the album, and again, I’ll use “Delusions” as my demonstrative template.
Let me start with the rhythm section. At some points, I find “Delusions” missing that sought-after knife-point precision when it comes to keeping and staying on the beat. This happens throughout the piece, though especially before the snare goes into some rather fast rhythms on the toms. With this lack of glassy sharpness, I sometimes found each number to be a bit sloppy, even somewhat amateurish.
And now, for the indecisiveness: another drum dilemma. Occasionally, the drum-beat rhythm lacks the complexity and amazement befitting of deathcore. I’m hearing mainly simplistic percussive patterns throughout the entire album, with some parts that speed up and add in slightly more complex patterns. I won’t deny that the footwork and practice that went into this must have been admirable and back-breaking, but I want more depth. Give me the ability to headbang and break my neck! Give me the need to refill my water bottle because I’m out of energy! At the same time, the idea of a barer rhythm might be good in certain styles of deathcore, as it’s not extremely common. Perhaps some band out there would sound incomplete without a simplistic drumming undertone to their pieces, in which case the use of more basic techniques would be completely . merited. So, maybe to your great disappointment, I must say that I’m not sure how exactly I feel about this drum dilemma, though it certainly warrants further listening. (Hell, at least it kept me interested, I guess!)
Nonetheless, I must say that I didn’t pay much mind overall to the mentioned flaws and indecisions. It might be concerning that I’m shoving those aside, but lemme tell ya this: Never mind that the pieces don’t exactly throw revolutionary deathcore concepts at you. Never mind that the typical djent doesn’t necessarily have you riffing and headbanging on your air guitar. I might sound like I’m being sarcastic when I say this, but honestly, Pitch Black was a pleasure to listen to in all its deathcore-embracing glory. Because sometimes, you don’t have to be extremely out of the ordinary to be a good listen anyways- my ears tell enough. (Ruth Xing)
*P.S. Check out the music video for “F.F.T.M.” below because it’s absolutely captivating! There’s no better word to describe the dark, slick atmosphere than “sexy,” as one YouTuber aptly puts it.
For Fans Of: Whitechapel, Carnifex, Thy Art Is Murder