Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lord of War - Celestial Pestilence

Unique Leader Records have been putting out some pretty awesome records lately. Although they’ve managed to maintain a fairly good reputation in the technical death and progressive death realms, it seems that they’re doing better than ever right now. Unique Leader did the same thing with Lord of War that they’ve done with a lot of their other bands. They simply take a new band’s already self-released album and re-release it. Ever since Unique Leader re-released Celestial Pestilence in 2012, Lord of War have been quite busy when it comes to touring because of the success that they’ve been. The deathcore genre is still huge, that’s not something unknown to the average metalhead. The genre’s reputation isn’t really doing so hot anymore. Early deathcore bands have set massive trends with their unique and progressive styles, and it’s turned into monotony. Bands have been following in the steps of Emmure and The Acacia Strain and doing nothing but simple breakdowns. Other deathcore bands have been following in the steps of After the Burial and Veil of Maya with their Meshuggah-style breakdowns. Although I do love Veil of Maya and After the Burial, I still set out to find new innovative deathcore bands. Bands like Make Them Suffer, Iwrestledabearonce, and, most recently, Lord of War are the bands that I want to make sure get noticed.

What’s special about Lord of War? Well, they simply just say that their uniqueness comes from the fact that they blend deathcore with melodic death. But to be honest, there’s much more to it than that. In fact, the whole melodic death thing seems like an overstatement. Lord of War takes a lot of generic elements from the deathcore genre and uses them for different purposes. Each individual musician is over-the-top in skill, technique, and creativity. Their music isn’t focused on breakdowns, so the intensity isn’t stored away for the breakdowns, which is something I usually prefer. Although I would like the breakdowns to have more energy, the patterns that they use are so interesting that it makes up for the lack in contrast with the rest of the song. But then again, this could be due to the production work on the album.

The sound quality of Celestial Pestilence is pretty much what one would expect from any deathcore album. The bass is heavy, the kick drums are meaty, the guitars take a dominant role in the music, and the vocals can be heard clearly. Like most other deathcore albums, the bass is covered up by the guitars most of the time. If the guitars are boring like in Aegaeon, Rose Funeral, and Impending Doom, it’s extremely annoying and lowers the interest-factor. If the guitars tend to cover up most of the bass, but are INTERESTING, like in All Shall Perish, Lamb of God, and Burning Skies, it’s much easier to tolerate. The guitar work on Celestial Pestilence is pristine. It’s filled with obviously well thought-out harmonizations, arrangements, and plenty of colorful solos. The rhythm guitars provide an amazing atmospheric and melodic background while the lead guitars take control of the sweeping riffs and the crushing slams. But then again, like in most bands that have traces of tech death in them, both of the guitarists have moments of complex, fast, and technical harmonization.

Drummers that are above-average are hard to come by these days in the deathcore genre. I’ll tell you this; the drummer that’s on Celestial Pestilence is fucking amazing. The drummer impresses all listeners with his ability to support both the melodic backing guitars AND the heavy crushing guitars at the same time. He has some of the fastest and most spot-on feet I’ve heard in a LONG time. During every single breakdown, there is not ONE fuck-up in the drums. But then again, there aren’t any fuck-ups in the drums on the entire album. Last, but not least, the pummeling blast beats that bury you into the pavement that humans like to call a road. The style of the drummer’s blast beats isn’t super unique, but they are good and have some interesting bits here and there.

The vocalist is awesome. He has everything anyone could ask for. He has deep guttural growls, mid-ranged growls, and traditional deathcore-styled screams. Most of the time, he growls; and for those of you that love Whitechapel, Carnifex, Conducting from the Grave, and Fit for an Autopsy, this is something that you’ll probably like. The screams are ok, but they aren’t anything that I would consider “outstanding” or “unique”; it’s mainly the growls that are worth talking about. The growls have that Corpsegrinder-like high-pitched whistle to them that some bands seem to have. The more epic moments almost always come with more mid-ranged growls.

Lord of War is one of the most innovative and interesting deathcore bands right now. They’ve got a lot of touring ahead of them this year, so I would suggest you catch them at one of their shows because I can guarantee you, I will be seeing them at least twice this year. Lord of War provides a unique perspective on deathcore while sprinkling in a bit of melodic death here and there after adding on a thin layer of atmospheric melody onto the whole record. I would recommend this to fans of deathcore, technical death, progressive death, fans of interesting shit, and to people who love really cool album covers. I’m giving Celestial Pestilence a score of 17/20.