Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sickening - Against the Wall of Pretence

I discovered Sickening via Amputated Vein Records along with several other bands including Disentomb, Visceral Disgorge, Bloodboil, and Eden Beast. Most of the bands that I’ve heard off that label have been pretty impressive, but Sickening is one of the mediocre bands on the label. I downloaded this album as soon as it was released because the album cover looks awesome and I was going through a brutal death phase. Ever since I first heard these guys, my opinion hasn’t changed one bit. The hardest albums to review are the mediocre ones, so this is going to be one of my shorter reviews because there isn’t that much uniqueness about this album. But the reason why I am reviewing this record is because it’s underground and I’m one that likes to give underground metal bands publicity with hopes that they will either get more attention or that they will get more feedback and improve their music.

The vocals aren’t really my cup of tea. They have the same sound as the vocalist of Ezophagothomia; if you haven’t heard them, their vocalist sounds like he consumed two liters of Mountain Dew before he entered the studio (and I’m pretty sure you know what carbonated beverages do to you). Although there is the occasional pigsqueal that comes out of his chops during songs like Blind Obsession and Unhealthy Illusions, the belching sound that the vocalist makes isn’t something that attracts me as being a vocalist that has any skill at all.

The drumming is somewhat off-time, which is something that irritates the shit out of me no matter what band is doing it. Any above average band at least has mastered the ability to keep a steady beat (specifically the drummer). So that means that Sickening is pretty average. But the album isn’t horrible, there aren’t very many downsides to this record other than the ones I have already described; it’s just that there aren’t really any upsides to it either. The production quality of the album is very crisp and clear for a band as underground and obscure as these guys, which shows that the band at least cares somewhat about what they’re delivering to your eardrums. The guitar distortion is crunchy with a layer of fuzziness to give it a bit of a grind sound.

The sound of the kick drums kind of bothers me. They don’t have that really fat, meaty sound with lots of bass that a brutal death band needs to have. They sound narrow, small, and weak; but at least they aren’t super high-pitched with no bass at all. There are some headbanging moments on the album that give you something to nod your head to, but it’s not the kind of thing that gives you the strong urge to just start going nuts like the Soilwork song Stabbing the Drama does.

Overall, the main thing that cost this band so many points on my rating is their crappy vocalist. So they need to get a new vocalist that can do deep guttural exhales as well as turning up the bass and widening the sound of the kick drums. Like I said before, this is one of my shorter reviews due to the lack of uniqueness on the album. I would give this 11/20 and would only suggest this to the brutal death fans.